Judge dismisses Confederate flag removal lawsuit

Months after the controversial removal of a confederate flag in a courthouse in York, a judge decided to dismiss a case against the move.

YORK COUNTY, S.C. - Months after the controversial removal of a Confederate flag from a South Carolina courtroom, Thursday a judge decided the flag will stay down.

The building at the center of the ordeal is the York County Courthouse.

In June, Russell Walker from North Carolina man filed a lawsuit against the County Clerk of Court David Hamilton for removing during courthouse renovations in April.

Thursday was Walker’s first time at the York County Courthouse and never saw the Confederate flag in the a courtroom before it was removed.

But he said he felt as if he has no choice but challenge the removal in court.

“My attitude is if I didn’t do something no one else is going to do it."

Walker’s lawsuit accuses County Clerk of Court David Hamilton of breaking the law when he removed the Confederate flag and pictures of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from the courthouse.

To Walker, the decision was offensive because he thinks the Confederate flag is a symbol of history not hate.

“Just because a flag is there doesn’t make it racist," said Walker. "God is racist, he made the racist. What God has separated no one is ever going to put back together again.”

Thursday morning, a judge throwing out the case since Walker is from North Carolina and has zero ties to York County or the Palmetto State.

Dozens of Confederate flag supporters showed up at the Courthouse before and after the hearing.

Many were unhappy about the decision.

“They hate our history and our people and they are sick people," said Dr. Warlaw Nelson. He traveled from Anderson, South Carolina to support Walker. 

“I’m not happy," said 'Dixie,' a York County resident. "Hopefully the next time, it will be corrected.”

Meanwhile, others think the judge made the right call.

“That flag should be put up in a museum somewhere but as far as the courtroom, no, said Dynesha Roseborough. "Too much separation.”

York County Clerk of Court David Hamilton released a statement in reaction to the judge's decision:

“As the Clerk of Court for York County for over 20 years, I have strived to maintain the integrity of the
people who have elected me to represent them. The law clearly states that the Clerk of Court has
“charge” of the courthouse and I have upheld that responsibility for over two decades and continue to
operate the York County Courthouse with the highest of standards to serve the people of York County.
Since the reopening of the York County Historical Courthouse in January of this year, I was put into the
position of making a decision that interests the citizens of York County as well as many people from all
over the United States of America. I have received hundreds of emails and countless telephone calls
regarding the flags and portraits that were inside the courtroom prior to the renovation and have
listened to these concerns.

The renovation of the Historical Courthouse took several years and I was not going to make a hasty
decision that could potentially cause irrevocable harm to the people of this County. I clearly could not
make a decision that would be favorable to everyone involved. Therefore, I reached out to the South
Carolina Attorney General for an Opinion as to whether or not any items that were inside the courtroom
prior to the renovation would fall under the Heritage Act and if so, where these items could be placed in
order to comply with the Act. To date, I have not received that Opinion.

When I was first sworn in as York County Clerk of Court in 1997, I took an Oath of Office to exercise the
duties of the office to which I was elected. I promised to discharge the duties thereof and to preserve
and protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States, so help me God. I took
that Oath seriously then and it remains my Oath today.

It is my goal that this matter be resolved quickly and smoothly.”

Meanwhile, Walker hopes someone from South Carolina will file another lawsuit.

NBC Charlotte's Billie Jean Shaw asked local flag supporters if they would be interested. They said no.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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