The commander of a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans doesn't have a problem with the NAACP's emblem being on the City of Goose Creek's welcome signs and doesn't understand why the civil rights group objects to theirs being on it as well.
"I have absolutely no issue with the NAACP having their logo on the sign," said Brian Lee Merrill, who heads the Parish Mounted Rangers Camp No. 2222, as the fraternal group is known in Goose Creek. "The more the merrier. They have every right to be represented, the same as we do."
Keith Day, past commander of the Parish Mounted Rangers chapter, said the city has certain requirements for those who want to be on the sign and both groups met the criteria.
"We're just about keeping the history alive," he said.
The appropriateness of displaying the Sons of Confederate Veterans' emblem, which includes the secessionist states' battle flag that some consider a symbol of racial bigotry, was raised by the Goose Creek branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Goose Creek officials declined to remove it, saying it was protected under free speech rights. Instead, they added the NAACP's logo to signs on Saint James Avenue and U.S. Highway 52.
David Cakley, president of the NAACP Goose Creek Chapter, said Monday that the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo on the welcome signs was brought to his attention about six months ago. At first, the local chapter considered mounting a protest at City Hall, but eventually decided to request that its logo be placed on the welcome signs, Cakley said.
Merrill said both organizations were rightly allowed on the signs.
"We don't have to agree on everything or anything, but we do indeed exist in Goose Creek," he said in an emailed statement. "I say a hearty 'welcome' to the NAACP." Scott Slatton, spokesman for the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said he wasn't aware of similar disputes over welcome signs.
"I'm not aware of any other case across the state similar to the one you are describing," he said.
The same issue arose in 2008 in Mount Pleasant regarding a welcome sign. The Sons of Confederate Veterans have a logo on the sign that motorists see when coming off the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge just past the intersection of Coleman and Patriots Point boulevards. The sign is next to markers for civic clubs such as Rotary, Sertoma and Kiwanis.
The East Cooper branch of the NAACP asked that the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo be removed, but it remains there.