A long-time Black community activist says he feels threatened after discovering a Confederate flag and a blue note addressed to him posted on the doors of the local community resource center he oversees.
The note read, “Louis Smith, we hope you find love in your heart and get rid of your hate for the beautiful Confederate flag. We will pray for you Louis. May God bless the Confederate soldiers and the flag! Deo Vindice.”
At 67, Louis Smith says the act is reminiscent of tactics used by the Ku Klux Klan to signal to Black community members that danger was right on their doorstep.
“Coming from my generation, when the Ku Klux Klan posted a sign or symbol on a black man’s door — that meant in the coming days they planned to do bodily harm, even up to killing that person,” Smith tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Smith is an outspoken political activist in the Summerville, S.C., community. Beyond his role as executive director of the Summerville Community Resource Center, Smith has made a name for himself for fighting against the public display of the Confederate flag in his hometown, going head-to-head with organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the former South Carolina Secessionist party.
“I have a history of fighting them, and I’ve basically won every battle that we’ve fought,” Smith tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
On June 21, Smith “thought it was a joke” when a local barber sharp notified him that a Confederate flag had been left on the door of the Summerville Community Resource Center.
When Smith arrived, he was angry and upset to find the “disgusting flag and equally repugnant note” attached to the window next to it, according to his Facebook post. He believes the culprits to be white supremacists.
Besides evoking past intimidation methods used by the KKK, Smith says he was also alarmed by the use of “deo vindice,” the motto of the Confederate States. The Latin phrase meaning, “God will vindicate,” reflected the belief they were “ordained by God protect the Confederate states,” says Smith.
Living in what he calls the “ground zero for slavery,” Smith says he views the incident as a serious threat.
“We live in the Deep South — there’s codes of conduct in the South that you must adhere to survive. Racism is institutionalized if you look at prisons here,” says Smith. “For someone to place a confederate flag on a business like this is unacceptable totally...I feel unsafe.”
Smith reported the incident to the local Summerville police, who investigated into the matter and determined that there was no direct threat in the note, while also acknowledging that it was concerning, reported local station WBCD.
The Summerville police department did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
According to Smith, the police have obtained surveillance footage revealing the perpetrators were a white man and woman. They allegedly proceeded to take selfies in front of the flag before leaving the premises.
Smith says local police refuse to release the tape to him. He adds that the man he believes to be involved in the incident has an alarming history, including urinating on a slave monument at the University of North Carolina.
“This is despicable that they would put a confederate flag in 2019 on a black business,” Smith tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that South Carolina is one of five states without hate crime laws. “And not to say it’s a hate crime, the powers that be are still perpetuating this myth.”
Smith left the flag up over the weekend and on Monday to show the Summerville community what had happened at the Community Resource Center. While some community members are “ashamed” about the incident, others believe that it has been orchestrated, comparing it to the Jussie Smollett incident.
However, Smith says he doesn’t plan to sit idly by after the event that has made him feel like a “second-class citizen.” He plans to speak with the Summerville police department and the South Carolina Republican party, in addition to organizing a town hall to discuss how the community should act moving forward.
“This is a community issue. We’re trying to bring the community together,” says Smith. “I’m not going to sit and pray and say forgive them. I am going to stand up to this situation. Hate will never win.”
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