SUMMERVILLE -- More than 80 residents of the Brownsville community packed the Town Council meeting Wednesday to present a petition to Mayor Berlin G. Myers asking the town to oppose a Confederate battle flag in the historically black neighborhood.
Some 270 people signed the petition, which asks the town to "defuse this potentially explosive situation." The community plans a march at 11 a.m. Saturday on the street in front of the home where the flag is flying. The town issued a permit for that march on Tuesday.
The petition was followed by comments from five people, with three supporting it. They were met with boisterous applause, cheers and boos from the audience.
One of the speakers was Annie Chambers Caddell, the resident flying the flag. She said she was not racist. "I really, really wish you'd understand," she said to the other residents, fighting back tears. They gave her polite applause as she sat down.
The petition and march plan follow a controversy that erupted in September when Caddell hung the flag from her porch alongside an American flag, and decorated her yard with Confederate insignia among other knickknacks and seasonal decorations.
The home is on a street considered the heart of Brownsville. The move outraged other residents.
Town officials have said Caddell has a right to fly the flag, and won't try to force her to bring it down.
In other business, council will send to public hearing a request by Joe Debney, Dorchester County Elections director, to move the town election from May to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the standard state and federal election day.
The change would be part of a statewide move by elections officials to consolidate local election days that are now scattered across the calendar. More than half the nearly 300 municipalities across the state hold elections on other days and in other months.
Local elections would be held on the odd-numbered years that state and federal elections aren't held. Standardizing the day would cut down confusion and cost, and improve voter turnout, elections officials say.