One man has been arrested after a fight over the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina Statehouse.
The brawl started about 7:15 p.m. Monday when about a dozen vehicles with Confederate flag supporters pulled up in front of the Statehouse and stopped in the middle of the street, Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli said in a statement.
About 10 of the flag supporters clashed with about 30 people who were on the Statehouse grounds protesting the flag, the statement said.
“The blood on my face, the blood in my teeth, the blood on my hands is no comparison to the Southern blood that runs through my veins,” Joe Linder told CBS News.
Linder, who was hit during the fight, supports the Confederate flag and says “racism has no part” in it.
“I’m gonna tell you one thing, I ain’t sitting down; this’ll just make me walk taller,” he told CBS News.
About 50 officers responded and contained the clash, including officers from the Bureau of Protective Services assigned to the Statehouse, as well as Columbia police, University of South Carolina officers and the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Two blocks of the street in front of the Statehouse was closed for a brief time during the disturbance.
Sydney Baldwin told CBS News the fight began when someone took his flag.
“I jumped out of my truck,” Baldwin said. “That was all I did, was grab my flag and I got hit in the side.”
Nicholas Thompson, 25, of Irmo, South Carolina, has been charged with disorderly conduct. It wasn’t clear if he has an attorney.
The Confederate flag has been a focus of protests since the fatal shooting of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston on June 17.
Public Safety Director Leroy Smith told reporters it was unfortunate that Columbia had a fight when there have been no problems reported in Charleston, where the shooting occurred.
The suspect in the Charleston shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, appears in a number of photographs online with the Confederate flag, prompting calls for removal of the flag from in front of the Statehouse.
South Carolina lawmakers are expected next week to consider proposals to take the flag down and move it to a museum.
The flag has flown at the Statehouse since the 1960s. It was removed from the Statehouse dome and placed at a Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the Statehouse in 2000.