York Co. councilman, others to stand against Confederate flag in courtroom

A York County Councilman is calling on others to stand together against hanging a Confederate flag in the renovated York County Courthouse courtroom before Sunday’s grand opening.

“A decision was made to put the Confederate flag back inside of the York County Courtroom,” Councilman William “Bump” Roddey posted Saturday afternoon on Facebook, calling the flag a “symbol of hate.”

“I'm strongly against this decision,” Roddey wrote in his Facebook post. “If you share in my opinion that this should not be in our courtroom, please join me and other elected officials and community leaders tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. outside the courthouse to stand against this decision.”

The grand opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at 2 S. Congress St. in York.

York County Clerk of Court David Hamilton said Friday that a version of the Confederate flag, which he had previously decided not to return to the main courtroom after the renovation, will displayed.

He said removing the flag would violate South Carolina’s Heritage Act.

Hamilton’s decision to put the flag back in the courtroom reverses a decision he made days earlier, when he believed he had authority under state law as clerk, and legal authority, to move the flag and other Civil War items to another spot in the building.

Roddey said other community leaders who will be joining him include S.C. Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, and Attorney Montrio Belton, as well as pastors and other supporters.

King praised Hamilton’s initial decision to take the flag out of the courtroom. He said Friday he plans to seek a formal legal opinion from the General Assembly.

“Next week I plan to ask the House legal team to look at the issue and provide a legal interpretation,” King said.

Roddey said he expects they could hear a decision within a week.

“We don’t have a problem with the flag being in the building, it’s just inside the courtroom is where we find our issue,” Roddey said.

“The flag has its place in history, but it should not be inside where justice is being rendered,” Roddey said. “Justice is supposed to be blind. I don’t feel anyone can honestly say justice is blind and a ruling may be tainted in some sort if that flag is in the courtroom.”