Judge dismisses lawsuit to return Confederate flag, relics to York County Courthouse

Judge dismisses lawsuit to return Confederate flag, relics to York County Courthouse
Coleen Harry/WBTV
Coleen Harry/WBTV
Coleen Harry/WBTV
Coleen Harry/WBTV

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A York County judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday, which was filed by a North Carolina man who believes the Confederate flag and other relics should be returned to the county's courthouse.

"It didn't surprise me," Russell Walker said, who is the man who filed the lawsuit. Walker says he still believes the York County Clerk of Court David Hamilton is wrong to keep the Confederate items out of the courthouse.

"I think what he's doing is legally wrong. I think what he's doing is morally wrong and I'd rather stand up and be kicked down than to do nothing," Walker said.

Walker said he was upset when he first heard that Hamilton had decided to not return the Confederate flag and other Civil War era relics to the courtroom after renovations were completed.

"My interest is it's simply wrong. It is simply morally wrong," Walker said. "State law says you can't take them down. I didn't write the state law. I'm just seeking to have the state law enforced."

Hamilton released this statement Thursday:

"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."

York County government officials tweeted Hamilton's entire statement:

York County officials asked the judge to dismiss the case because they say Walker doesn't live in South Carolina.

"My attitude was if I didn't do something, no one is going to do it," Walker said.

While the judge listened to arguments inside the courthouse, some people gathered outside.  Officers with the York Police Department and York County sheriff deputies were on hand just in case.

"Our flags, our monuments – that's our heritage," one Confederate flag supporter said.

"I'm glad to stand right here to show exactly where I stand on what's going in there. It's wrong. Taxpayers dollars a total waste because that history needs to go back. That's all there is to it. It needs to go back," another woman said.

Dynique Roseboro says she was out for a walk when she noticed people standing outside the court house holding up the Confederate flag.

"It makes me unsafe to be honest because we read what the history books said and there's no telling what may happen. What happened in Charlottesville could very well happen here," Roseboro said. "But I don't feel safe with the Confederate flag flying around because I don't feel unity. I don't feel peace. I feel separated. I don't feel like I'm even wanted when I see that Confederate flag."

Roseboro says she believes the flag should have been removed from the courthouse.

"It shouldn't be inside of the courtroom, if they want it have a part of history – they should have it in a museum or something to have all the artifacts inside the museum for the Confederate flags, monuments or anything of of that nature," Roseboro said. "Whereas the courtroom – the courtroom should be one for all, all for many. We all bleed the same color. It shouldn't just be that flag in the courtroom."

In the end, the judge threw out the case because Walker is not from South Carolina.

"I believe I've got a public interest but that's just me," Walker said after the hearing. "Rather than fight that argument, it will be a lot easier to get someone from South Carolina to initiate an action directly then the North Carolina issue goes away."

Walker says he'll wait to get a copy of the order and a copy of the transcript to see exactly what it says. He wants to talk with other people.

A woman who held a Confederate flag outside the historical courthouse said the judge's decision was wrong.

"I think it was b-s, total b-s. We had an opportunity and now they're throwing it because of a technicality and that's all I know. Something is not right there," she said. "We're not going to give up. We will do another one. Trust me. It's not going to stop. They want us to back down...naw. If we have an opportunity to do it again, we'll do it again."

In his statement, Hamilton said he "took an Oath of Office to exercise the duties of the office to which I was elected."

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