South Carolina Secessionist Party Chairman James Bessenger said the appearance Sunday of a Confederate Battle Flag near the NCAA Tournament in Greenville was part of a protest directed at the state legislature and the NCAA's political correctness in general.
Bessenger, in a statement issued Monday, said his group intends to make an appearance at attractions in the state "until the state legislature keeps its promise and the Confederate Battle Flag that was removed from statehouse grounds in 2015 is honorably displayed within the State Museum Confederate Relic Room as is prescribed by legislation."
Bessenger also said the group's message was directed at the NCAA, which "decided to inject itself into South Carolina politics by banning the state from hosting tournaments" until the flag was removed from statehouse grounds, where it had stood since 1964.
"We as an organization, as well as countless other Southerners, are tired of seeing corporations and organizations attempt to bully Southern states into condemning their heritage and sacrificing the honor of their Confederate veterans on the altar of political correctness," Bessenger said.
Bessenger said the flag "has been co-opted and misused by individuals and organizations in the past to spread hatred, fear, intimidation, and inequality," and that his organization is as offended by those misuses. "That does not mean that we are willing to sacrifice the banner under which 20,000-plus South Carolinians and 250,000-plus Southerners of all races laid down their lives in service to their states."
"Soldiers don’t fight for political agendas of governments," Bessenger said. "They fight because they are told to, just as soldiers do to this day."