Protesters flew a large Confederate flag atop a parking garage just feet from a SC arena hosting NCAA Tournament games on Sunday.
The irony, of course, is that this coulda-shoulda been a home game for the Durham, NC-based Blue Devils.
The Confederate flag flew outside South Carolina's statehouse until 2015, when the state government made a decision to take it down after the June murders of nine black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston.
The Gamecocks themselves were lucky to be hosting their opponents.
In July 2015, the NCAA lifted its ban on hosting championship events in the state of SC after state lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse and Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to officially bring it down.
The flag's appearance comes almost three years after it was removed from above the Columbia statehouse, ending a near 15-year ban that prohibited the state from holding NCAA games.
A small group of protesters marred the return of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to the state of SC.
Dan Gavitt, an NCAA senior vice president of basketball released the following statement to ESPN on Sunday. "Freedom of speech activities on the public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville and we are supportive of the city's efforts".
The NCAA has had a contentious relationship with both North and SC in recent years. And with the Final Four set to take place in San Antonio next year, don't be surprised if conservative-leaning sports lovers in Lone Star territory are suddenly overcome with passive indifference to who pisses where.
In 2002, the NAACP held a march in downtown Greenville to protest the state flying the flag on Statehouse grounds during the NCAA regionals at the arena. The NCAA originally placed the games in Greensboro, N.C., But it removed them from the state over its HB2 bill, which limits protections offered to LGBTQ people and relocating to Greenville.
The NCAA does not host championship events in MS due to the prominence of the Confederate flag in the MS state flag. Roof, who in social media posts before the killings was seen posing with Confederate flags, was convicted of the massacre in January and sentenced to death.
A single flag is being flown from the top level of the parking lot adjacent to the arena, where the second round of the NCAA tournament will begin tonight.
"I didn't feel it was right when the flag came down", Hunter Meadows, an ancestor of a Confederate soldier, toldthe AP. "You think we all agree on everything?"
Incident: Protesters said they wanted to make their presence known to the NCAA.
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