In the wake of the June 17 murders of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, there have been calls nationwide for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse steps in Columbia. And while Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag’s removal, it takes a two-thirds majority vote by the legislature to have it lowered.
Activist and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts graduate Brittany “Bree” Newsome took matters into her own hands on Saturday (June 27) morning, scaling the flagpole in front of the statehouse and removing the Confederate flag herself. Upon returning to the ground Newsome was arrested by State Capitol police along with James Tyson, her spotter and a fellow activist. The two were charged with defacing a monument. The flag was replaced soon after.
Bree’s actions inspired the hashtags #FreeBree and #KeepItDown, which was one of the number one trending topics in the U.S. on Saturday. But before she became known as a national hero, Newsome was also a filmmaker. Her short film “Wake” earned her the Outstanding Independent Short Film award in the 2012 Black Reel Awards and the Best Short Film at BET Urban World Film Festival.
Both Newsome and Tyson have since been given a bond of $3,000 each, and are allowed to leave the state. Watch the Confederate flag takedown above, and check out Bree’ short film below.