The video was everywhere.
As a reporter goes live in Charleston, South Carolina, suddenly someone leaps into a crowd of protesters and attempts to grab a Confederate flag from a white man waving it.
That someone is Black Lives Matter member and activist, 31-year-old Muhiyidin d’Baha. After grabbing the flag, police quickly arrested him for disorderly conduct.
In an interview with theGrio.com d’Baha says,“It was just in the moment, the spirit of righteousness to just go and take that flag down. It was pure intimidation on their part; we just wanted to limit [the protesters’] ability to intimidate us any longer.”
B’aha and others were in downtown Charleston in support of a speech by Bree Newsome. You might remember Newsome as the woman who boldly climbed the flagpole at the South Carolina State House and unhooked and removed the Confederate flag back in July 2015.
The event last month in Charleston was Newsome’s first public speaking engagement since the incident took place. She was there to speak on social justice. Her removal of the flag in 2015 was in response to the mass shooting that had just happened at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where 21-year-old Dylan Roof shot and killed nine church members.
While climbing the pole, Newsome shouted, “You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today!”
Following the mass shooting, thousands in South Carolina gathered for protests asking for the removal of the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds, calling the flag a symbol of hate, bigotry and racism.
“We’re still sore from the act of white supremacy terrorism that occurred [at Emanuel AME],” d’Baha said. “And so to have that flag be raised again in our face in Charleston at an event where we’re actually supposed to [be] celebrating her courageous-ness, celebrating some progress… this was allowed to happen.”
Instead, B’aha says the city of Charleston allowed a group known as “Secessionist Party” to relocate their normal gatherings and have a counter protest to the event right across the street, taking part in what’s referred to as the “grand flagging” of the Confederate flag.
Since September 2015, a member of the party has waved the flag in Charleston every weekend for several hours.
City leaders, d’Baha says, should be held accountable for allowing the counter protest.
“They know what they’re doing. It’s their heritage to use that flag to intimidate,” d’Baha said. “We’re at a point where we see oppression not hiding under political correctness anymore. We see white supremacy out, and we need to, you know, take that leap of justice and to go right in to what it is that they’re trying to make us afraid of.”
Showing Up For Racial Justice in Charleston organized an online donation to raise money to bail d’Baha out of jail.
Ashantai Hathaway is a reporter at theGrio. Keep up with her on Twitter @AshantaiH