COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Confederate battle flag flew again outside the South Carolina Statehouse on Sunday — temporarily — during a rally that drew both supporters in Civil War garb and bullhorn-toting protesters.
Groups for and against the flag were kept separate by metal barriers on the front lawn, and police officers supported by helicopters circling overhead kept the peace as the flag flew again for several hours.
But the scene was tense at times after police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the killings of officers by a black sniper in Dallas.
A year ago Sunday, after a white man killed nine black people inside a Charleston church, the Confederate flag that had flown for years beside the Confederate Soldiers Monument was furled and sent to a museum.
The monument remains, but the 30-foot pole the flag flew on was dismantled. So on Sunday, re-enactors hosted a battle flag on a portable pole in the same spot as about 200 people watched.
The rally was organized by the South Carolina Secessionist Party, and supporters held their own flags. Some dressed as a Confederate Memorial Honor Guard. They saluted as the flag rose up the pole, and the crowd applauded and cheered, with some shouting "Leave it there!"
Some also joined in a sing-along of "Dixie."
But dozens of protesters also showed up, including a man who shouted through a bullhorn: "That flag is hate! That's why it was taken down in the first place."