TIME Accident

2 More Shark Attacks Reported in the Carolinas

Two men were attacked on Friday

Two new shark attacks were reported in North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday.

According to The Charlotte Observer, a 47-year-old man was bitten by a shark in Avon, N.C. and was being treated for leg and lower back injuries. Also on Friday, a man was bitten by a shark while swimming off of Hunting Island in South Carolina.

The latest shark bites come after four other recent attacks in North Carolina. On June 14, a 16-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl were both attacked by sharks within an hour and a half of each other in Oak Island, N.C. Both kids lost part of their arms.

Though the recent cases are certainly a nerve-wracking trend for beach-goers, shark attacks are still considered rare. None of the attacks in the U.S. in the past year were fatal. Sixty-five percent of the them involved surfers or people doing board sports and 32% involved people who were swimming.

 

TIME South Carolina

Woman Removes Confederate Flag Flying at South Carolina Statehouse

It was raised again a short time later

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — The Confederate flag was temporarily removed from the front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday when a woman climbed the flagpole and — despite calls by police to get down — removed the banner.

Bree Newsome, 30, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was about halfway up the more than 30-foot steel flagpole just after dawn Saturday when officers of the South Carolina Bureau of Protective Services told her to get down. Instead, she continued climbing to the top and removed the banner.

She and a man who had climbed over a four-foot wrought-iron fence to get to the flag were arrested.

The flag, which is protected by state law, was raised about 45 minutes later. Flag supporters planned a rally at the monument later on Saturday.

Sherri Iacobelli, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said that Newsome and James Ian Tyson, 30, also of Charlotte, have been charged with defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds. That’s a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison term of up to three years or both.

A staff member at the Alvin Glenn Detention Center where the two were taken said she did not know if the two had attorneys. About the time of her arrest, Newsome released an email statement to the media.

“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day,” it said. “It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

Authorities said Newsome was from Raleigh. However, Mervyn Marcano, a spokesman for the small group of activists who worked together to take down the flag, said she had recently moved to Charlotte.

Tamika Lewis, another member of the group, said taking down the flag “was done because we were tired of waiting for the judicial system to make the decision they have been prolonging for a very long time.”

Calls for removing the flag have been renewed since nine black churchgoers were killed in what police characterized as a racist attack at a Charleston, South Carolina church last week.

South Carolina lawmakers took the initial steps last Tuesday toward removing the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds by agreeing to allow discussion of the matter during the legislative session.

The agreement came a day after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley reversed course and called for the divisive symbol to come down. The flag has flown in front of the state Capitol for 15 years after being moved from atop the Statehouse dome.

The momentum in South Carolina sparked further calls from politicians across the state and country for flags and Confederate symbols to be removed from public displays in other states.

 

TIME South Carolina

Hundreds Attend First Funeral for Charleston Shooting Victims

US-SHOOTING-CHARLESTON
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Pallbearer release doves over the casket holding Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Ethel Lance during her burial at the Emanuel AME Church Cemetery in Charleston, S.C., on June 25, 2015.

The first funeral was for 70-year-old Ethel Lance, who served as a sexton at the church

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A choir and band launched into one of Ethel Lance’s favorite gospel tunes and roused hundreds of mourners from their seats Thursday in a crescendo of music at the first funeral for victims of the massacre at a historic black church.

People stood to clap, nod and sway — some closing their eyes under the exertion of the cathartic singing. Ushers walked through the aisles with boxes of tissues for people to dab their tears as an organ, drums and bass guitar played along.

The service was fitting for the 70-year-old Charleston native with “an infectious smile.” She served with vigor as an officer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said the church’s interim leader, the Rev. Norvel Goff.

“When it was time for the ushers to usher, she had the usher strut,” Goff said. “When sister Lance praised the Lord, you had to strap on your spiritual seat belt.”

Police officers stood guard and checked bags as mourners filed in for the funeral, which was held as the debate over the Confederate flag and other Old South symbols continued. A monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis had the phrase “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted on it Thursday in Richmond, Virginia, the latest of several monuments to be defaced around the country.

Lance and eight other Emanuel church members were killed when police say a gunman walked into a Bible study June 17 and opened fire in a racially motived attack.

Lance served as a sexton at Emanuel for the last five years, helping to keep the historic building clean, and she loved gospel music. She had five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“I want my grandmother’s legacy to be what she stood for,” said granddaughter Aja Risher. “She is going to be a catalyst for change in this country.”

Services for Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, were held Thursday afternoon, and funerals for the other victims were set to happen over the next week, including one Friday for the church pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

As the two victims were laid to rest, the debate over Confederate symbols and statues raged on. In Richmond, where the Davis statue was vandalized, a small group from the Southern heritage advocacy group Virginia Flaggers waved Confederate Flags next to the monument.

Barry Isenhour, a member of the group, said they were offering a $1,500 reward for tips that led to the conviction of those responsible for the spray painting.

Some people in cars driving by honked in support of the Virginia Flaggers. Others yelled obscenities at the group.

While the group was there, 20-year-old Caleb Pollard ran around it, shirtless with American flag-themed leggings and underwear. He wore an American flag as a cape and pointed to it, asking the group: “Why don’t you raise this flag?”

In Memphis, Tennessee, the mayor there said he thinks the grave and statue of Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest should be removed from a city park.

The suspected gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, had a Confederate license plate, and images on a website created in his name months before the attacks show him posing with the flag and burning and desecrating the U.S. flag. He also poses at Confederate museums, former slave plantations and slave graves.

Boyd Young, who represents Roof’s family, issued a statement on their behalf saying that they would answer questions later but wanted to allow the victims’ families to grieve.

“We feel it would be inappropriate to say anything at this time other than that we are truly sorry for their loss,” the statement said.

Gov. Nikki Haley started the groundswell against Confederate icons Monday by successfully calling on South Carolina lawmakers to debate taking down the Confederate battle flag flying in front of the Statehouse. Then Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, also a conservative Republican, brought down four secessionist flags at the Capitol there. He compared the banner to the universally shunned symbols of Nazi Germany, a stunning reversal in a region where the Confederacy was formed 154 years ago and where Jefferson Davis was elected president.

At Lance’s funeral, a family friend said she was glad to see so many states taking action.

“Knowing the tragedy that happened, with the young man holding the flag up, it’s time for it to come down,” said Alexis Mouzon, who went to high school with Lance’s daughter.

___

Meg Kinnard in Charleston; Seanna Adcox, Jeffrey Collins, Susanne M. Schafer and Jack Jones in Columbia; Kim Chandler in Hackleburg, Alabama; Martin Swant in Montgomery, Alabama; and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME Education

College of Charleston Board Supports Removing Confederate Flag From South Carolina State House

The College's President, who has yet to comment, has been a staunch supporter of confederate flag display in the past

A university in downtown Charleston added its name on Wednesday to a growing chorus of those asking for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina’s State House grounds in Columbia following last week’s massacre at a historic black church.

In a resolution posted to the College of Charleston’s website, the university’s Board of Trustees expressed its support for “the efforts of the state’s many political, civic, and business leaders in urging for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds.” The announcement came one week after authorities say a white gunman shot nine people dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston during a Bible study group, including longtime librarian Cynthia Graham Hurd.

The push to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds gained steam after the emergence of images that showed the suspect, Dylann Roof, posing with the flag. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asked lawmakers this week to look into removing it from Capitol grounds, and a number of small and large retailers around the country have begun pulling the flag and related merchandise from their in-store and online offerings.

The Board’s Chairman, Greg Padgett, said in a news statement that the resolution was a part of an effort to consider how the Board of Trustees and the College of Charleston “can continue to be a part of the healing process of our city, our region and our state in the aftermath of these nine murders.”

“The College of Charleston is woven into the very fabric of the city of Charleston and our histories are so closely intertwined,” he added. “We, as the governing body of this institution, must join with others in the state and from around the country in supporting the efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds.”

College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell, who has supported public display of the flag in the past, had not yet to commented on the Board’s announcement as of early Wednesday evening, but a spokesman told the Post and Courier that he may do so after the victims’ funerals.

TIME tragedy

Mourners Pay Respects to Clementa Pinckney at South Carolina Statehouse

Clementa Pinckney Wake State House
Win McNamee—Getty Images Visitors pay their respects during an open viewing for Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, S.C. on June 24, 2015.

A week after he and eight others were killed in a church shooting in Charleston

Hundreds of mourners lined up to view the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s open casket on Wednesday, under the dome of the South Carolina statehouse, a week after he and eight others were fatally shot at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

A horse-drawn carriage and nine state troopers delivered the casket to the statehouse floor, where mourners could file through to pay their respects, the Post and Courier reports. Those who attended were greeted by colleagues of Pinckney, who was the lead pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and a state senator, as well as his widow and two young daughters.

Pinckney is the first African American to lie in state under the statehouse dome since at least the Reconstruction era, according to the Associated Press. Though a Confederate flag still flies in front of the complex, a black drape had been placed over a second-floor window to prevent mourners from seeing it.

TIME Television

Former Dukes of Hazzard Actor Defends Confederate Flag

Ben "Cooter" Jones
Bill Clark—Getty Images Former Rep. Ben "Cooter" Jones, D-Ga., speaks with reporters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court following arguments in the Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans case in Washington on March 23, 2015.

Ben Jones, now a store owner, says Confederate flag items will stay in his stores

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — The actor who played Cooter on the TV series “Dukes of Hazard” is defending the Confederate flag as a symbol of the spirit of independence.

Ben Jones posted on Facebook that fans of the show know that the flag represents values of the rural South including courage, family and good times.

Jones and his wife own two stores in Tennessee and one in Virginia that celebrate the show and its fictional Hazzard County. Jones also is a former U.S. congressman who represented Georgia. He served as a Democrat.

He says the flag is being attacked in a “wave of political correctness” that is vilifying Southern culture.

Confederate merchandise is being dropped by Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon and other businesses after the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston.

Jones said Confederate items will never be removed from the Cooter’s Place stores.

 

TIME NASCAR

NASCAR Distances Itself From Confederate Flag After Massacre

Confederate Flag NASCAR Auto Racing
Rob Carr—AP Confederate flags fly in the infield as cars come out of turn one during a NASCAR auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., on Oct. 7, 2007

Dylann Roof appeared in photos holding Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags

Confederate flags are as easy to find at NASCAR races as cutoff jeans, cowboy hats and beer.

They fly over motorhomes. They adorn clothing. They are regular fixtures, just like Ford and Chevrolet, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

NASCAR probably would like to see them go away.

The sanctioning body for the motorsports series backed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in the wake of the Charleston church massacre. NASCAR issued its statement Tuesday, the same day South Carolina lawmakers agreed to discuss removing the flag and one day after Haley said “the time has come” to take it down. And that is as far as NASCAR appears willing to go for now.

“As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity,” NASCAR said. “While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.”

International Speedway Corp., NASCAR’S sister company that owns a majority of the tracks, echoed the sanctioning body’s response.

“We join NASCAR in support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s position on the Confederate flag,” ISC President John Saunders said in a statement. “ISC strives to ensure all fans are welcome to enjoy our events and maintains an inclusive environment at our facilities nationwide. ISC will continue our long-standing practice to prohibit the sale of Confederate flag material on our property.”

Saunders declined a request by The Associated Press for further comment. Other tracks did not respond to requests for comment.

Nine people were slain last week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is charged with murder. The white man appeared in photos holding Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags, and purportedly wrote of fomenting racial violence.

Big retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears, eBay and Etsy all said they would remove Confederate merchandise from their stores or websites and politicians across the South called for various steps to move away from the symbol that many associate with racism.

NASCAR has faced criticism over the years for various issues, often involving sponsors. A decade ago, there were questions when hard liquor companies emerged as potential sponsors for a sport built around fast cars and a series whose founding in 1948 gave ex-moonshiners a place to race. More recently, the National Rifle Association drew attention when it struck a sponsorship deal with Texas Motor Speedway not long after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Connecticut.

Confederate flags have been flown by fans at NASCAR races for years. For NASCAR’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Charleston, a Confederate flag theme was part of poster merchandise from the 1950s into the late ’70s.

Tracks have long and detailed rules for fans, but none involving the content of flags. Although NASCAR has eliminated the use of Confederate flags in any official capacity, it could take things a step further and include language in sanctioning agreements that would ban them altogether at tracks.

But that would be difficult to enforce at tracks with hundreds of acres of infield space and sometimes more than 100,000 fans.

“There’s only so much that you can do with an issue like this if you’re NASCAR,” said Brad Daugherty, a former NBA star and current co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.

“But I will tell you, being an African-American man going to the racetrack and seeing the Confederate flag – and I’m a different egg or a different bird because I’m a Southern kid, I’m a mountain kid, I hunt and fish, I love racing,” Daugherty said Tuesday on Sirius XM radio. “But to walk into the racetrack and there’s only few that you walk into and see that Confederate flag – it does make my skin crawl. And even though I do my best to not acknowledge it or to pay any attention to it, it’s there and it bothers me because of what it represents.”

In 2012, NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” at Phoenix International Raceway, which is owned by ISC. Officials cited concerns about a negative reaction to an image of the Confederate flag on the roof of the “General Lee.”

“The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said at the time. Watson said he didn’t “stand for the Confederate flag” and noted that NASCAR was “built on moonshining,” an occasional theme in the TV show.

Former “Dukes” actor and ex-Georgia Congressman Ben Jones criticized that decision.

“As a cast member of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and the owner of several ‘General Lees,’ I can attest that the car and our show reflect the very best of American values, and that Hazzard County was a place where racism was not tolerated,” said Jones, who played the mechanic Cooter on the show. “This action by NASCAR is a provocative and unnecessary overreaction to a problem that doesn’t exist. It is a disgraceful and gratuitous insult to a lot of very decent people.”

TIME States

Why Mississippi Is Unlikely to Redesign Its State Flag

Unlike in South Carolina, the political will isn't there

As South Carolina officials have united behind a push to remove a Confederate flag that flies in the state capital, focus has shifted to the last state that includes the controversial banner in its flag: Mississippi.

In the last few days, several prominent Mississippi legislators have supported a redesigned flag without Confederate symbols after the shooting in Charleston, S.C. that left nine people dead at a storied black church. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, was seen in several photos following the shooting posing next to the Confederate States of America flag.

“I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed,” Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said in a statement. “We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

Others, including Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, have signaled they’d be open to changing it, while Lt. Governor Tate Reeves appears willing to let the people decide in a future referendum. Democratic State Senator Kenny Jones says he is marshaling bipartisan support to pre-file legislation that will be taken up when the legislature is in session in January and will ultimately need two-thirds of the legislature to sign any change into law.

“In 2001, the conversation centered around the flag being disrespectful and appalling to African-Americans, but at the same time it was about the heritage to the white community,” Jones says. “Now, the conversation is different. Now it’s about how this symbol represents hatred, violence and bigotry. Now it’s about what can we do to make our state more progressive but in a bipartisan way.”

But changing a symbol that has flown in Mississippi for more than a century is a far greater challenge than removing one flag at the South Carolina statehouse. For one, there is little political will within the Republican-dominated legislature to do so, says John Bruce, a University of Mississippi political science professor. “The dominant thread of ideology in the Republican party in the state is to pick up the flag, wave it and say, it’s state’s rights,” Bruce says. “Not to say that that’s everybody, but the tenor of the party will not find it particularly objectionable.”

While several states still include remnants of Confederate symbols in their state flags, Mississippi is unique. The primary symbol on the flag is a smaller version of the Confederate battle flag, which to many black Americans recalls an earlier era of slavery and discrimination, but to some white communities symbolizes Southern heritage. Originally designed in 1894, the Mississippi flag came under scrutiny in 2001 during a referendum led by the Mississippi Economic Council, the state’s chamber of commerce, which argued that it hurt tourism and businesses looking to relocate to the state.

“The great argument we made from a business perspective was that if you were trying to introduce a product, would you make something that made 38% of your market uncomfortable?” says Blake Wilson, CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, referring to the black population in the state. “It was a no-brainer from our perspective, but we probably misjudged the ability for business to influence the general public. The people in Mississippi were not ready to take that step.”

Two-thirds of Mississippians backed the old flag over one that had been redesigned without any Confederate symbolism. Ole Miss’s Bruce says that the alternative flag was not particularly well liked and that many Mississippians saw no threat from businesses that may not want to set up shop because of the flag. “I think the mood was, We’re a poor, agrarian state anyway,” Bruce says. “You can’t hurt us.”

And there’s little to suggest that much has changed since then. Only a handful of Mississippi’s 174 state legislators have signaled that they’ll consider even debating a motion to change it. The state’s 97 Republican legislators will likely be opposed to any change, and there’s still one important hold-out: Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who essentially warned legislators on Tuesday not to attempt to override 2001’s referendum.

“A vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state’s flag, and I don’t believe the Mississippi Legislature will act to supersede the will of the people on this issue,” Bryant said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Bruce, the Ole Miss professor, says that even with momentum in South Carolina and around the U.S. in support of removing that state’s Confederate flag, he believes there won’t be enough political support to change it in Mississippi, especially if the governor is opposed.

“We haven’t had the shock South Carolina has had,” Bruce says. “Changing the flag would likely take something that throws us into the national news with that symbol and that conversation that we can’t run away from.”

TIME eBay

eBay to Ban Confederate Flags

US-CRIME-SHOOTING-FLAG
MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images A man holds a sign up during a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015.

eBay said in a statement today that it will ban Confederate flag-themed items, immediately, following in the footsteps of Walmart, Sears and K-Mart.

“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The backlash against the flag comes in the wake of the mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C., historically black church. The alleged perpetrator, Dylann Roof, has been shown posing with the Confederate flag in photos, as well as making racist remarks.

In response to the shooting, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag that stands on the grounds of the state capitol to be taken down. Viriginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for his state to phase out license plates depicting the flag, which many associate with slavery and racism.

 

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