Confederate Naval Jack in university chapel protected, South Carolina AG says
A Confederate Naval Jack hanging in The Citadel's Summerall Chapel has come under fire from a Charleston County councilman. However, the flag has received protection from state officials.
Last week, Councilman Henry Darby, who is African-American, described the flag as “a very divisive symbol that’s being supported by tax dollars,” and subsequently threatened to pull nearly $1 million in funding from the school if it was not removed.
Darby says Charleston constituents are concerned the presence of the Confederate Naval Jack will deter African-Americans from attending the Citadel and eventually serving in the United States Armed Forces.
The Citadel was not inclined to grant Darby’s request. According to the university, the flag falls under the state's Heritage Act, a law passed in 2000 which protects memorials on public property. As the flag serves as a memorial—it was presented to Citadel President Summerall in 1939 by the Cadet Yacht Club—and the university is a public one, the school said it can’t do anything; removing it would be illegal.
Not everyone agreed that the South Carolina Heritage Act is applicable to the controversial flag — two state senators wrote to the S.C. Attorney General's office asking for an opinion of whether or not the flag is protected under the Heritage Act.
Today, Attorney General Alan Wilson issued an opinion on the matter, bringing the legal debate to a close. Wilson ruled that the Naval Jack is a protected monument and should not be removed from the school’s chapel.
With the legal questions settled, it’s likely that The Citadel will receive the funding. The Charleston County Council previously approved a proposal stating that it would give The Citadel the funding if the flag was protected.
The Confederate Naval Jack is not the only flag hanging in Summerall Chapel. It is accompanied by 57 other flags, many of which have been there for over 50 years.
The Citadel released a statement thanking Wilson for his ruling and hoping it "will bring closure for those who have raised this issue."
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