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Activist who took down Confederate flag says it’s ‘my calling as a freedom fighter’

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The woman who shimmied up a flagpole at the South Carolina state capitol last week and removed the Confederate battle flag told CNN she has no regrets about doing it, even if she serves time for it.

Bree Newsome, a filmmaker and activist from Charlotte, North Carolina, told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that she accepts potential jail time as “part of my calling as a freedom fighter.”

Newsome and fellow activist James Tyson were charged with defacing state property after Newsome scaled the 30-foot pole Saturday and cut down the flag. She and Tyson, who helped her from the ground, face three years in prison on the misdemeanor and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

She told guest anchor Kate Bolduan that she wanted to highlight an unjust situation.

She called the battle flag “this symbol of hate, this symbol of treason.”

When asked about a recent poll that suggested most people see the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride, Newsome said it shows people need to be better educated about the history of the Civil War.

In this story

  • Bree Newsome faces three years in prison for taking down a flag on Capitol grounds
  • Her fellow activist is also charged with defacing state property
  • She calls the Confederate battle flag "this symbol of hate, this symbol of treason"

She hoped her actions and that of the state, which had a black worker put the flag back up about half an hour later, draw attention to a moral dilemma.

“It’s a moment for society to do a gut check of our values,” Newsome said.

On her Facebook page, Newsome says she is a western North Carolina field organizer for Ignite NC, which protests voter laws it sees as discriminatory.

After she finishes doing her round of media interviews, she said, she’ll go back to the same thing she was doing before her time on the flagpole and in the spotlight.

“The work continues until we are no longer in a place of being dependent on institutions and systems that don’t value our lives.”

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