GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Protestors are flying a Confederate flag around Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the sight of some of Sunday's NCAA Tournament games.
A small group of protesters flew the flag on the back of a pickup truck on top of a nearby parking garage. They arrived Sunday morning and planned to stay through the tournament games, according to the Associated Press.
Greenville received the NCAA games after they were pulled from Greensboro, N.C. because of the controversial HB 2 law.
The NCAA lifted its ban on South Carolina hosting championships in 2015. The ban began in 2001 because lawmakers would not vote to have the Confederate flag removed from Statehouse grounds during NCAA regionals. The issue was settled in 2015 after the Charleston church shooting by Dylan Roof, who was a white supremacist who took pictures with the confederate flag. State lawmakers voted to remove the flag after the massacre.
As people arrived to the arena on Friday, people noticed the Confederate flag waving at the parking garage.
Confederate flag next to NCAA arena pic.twitter.com/OBoJv6V8I4— Pete Iacobelli (@PIacobelli_AP) March 19, 2017
I can see the confederate flag next to the arena from my hotel room. pic.twitter.com/4L7sb90TYN— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 19, 2017
The NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt released at statement on the matter Sunday afternoon:
"The NCAA is proud and excited to host championships in the state of South Carolina once again. We are committed to assuring that our events are safe and accessible to all. No symbols that compromise that commitment will be permitted to be displayed on venue property that the tournament controls. Freedom of speech activities on public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville and we are supportive of the city's efforts."
Hunter Meadows of Blue Ridge told the Associated Press the protesters did not think it fair that all Confederate flag supporters were blamed for Roof’s actions.
“I didn’t feel it was right when the flag came down,” Meadows said, adding that his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. “We wanted to show the NCAA that we’re still here.”
The city of Greenville has not commented on the protest.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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