Edisto River Creamery (copy) (copy)

Orangeburg's zoning appeals board has ruled in favor of Confederate flag supporters, seen demonstrating in May by the Edisto River Creamery after the business attempted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the flagpole in front of the restaurant. File/Times & Democrat


A Confederate flag that's been at the center of a dispute between an Orangeburg restaurant owner and the Sons of Confederate Veterans will keep flying for the time being.

An appeals board on Thursday night upheld a determination by the city's zoning department that an ordinance did not apply to flags or flagpoles, said Justin Bamberg, an attorney representing the restaurant owner for free. 

Bamberg, in a letter to the city, had argued that the land the Sons of Confederate Veterans paid $11.10 in property taxes on last year and were using to fly the flag, didn't comply with the site's business zoning requirements.

"We presented a very strong argument but we respect the process," he said. "I do believe that they made the wrong decision."

The attorney said he was heartened by the civility shown during Thursday night's meeting and that proceedings were devoid of insults or other disparaging remarks. 

Bamberg said he and his client, Edisto River Creamery & Kitchen owner Tommy Daras, plan to evaluate their options before possibly filing an appeal in circuit court.  

The dispute began in November when Daras tried to hold a ceremony to remove the flag, which he said kept away some customers. He was stopped by two members of the pro-Confederate group that threatened to have him arrested for trespassing.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say they were deeded the 0.003 acres of land where the flag is displayed by Maurice Bessinger, the former owner of the business location and who was well known in South Carolina for his barbecue chain and open dissemination of white supremacist literature at his Piggie Park restaurants. The site has a small monument next to the flag.

Daras, who purchased the property for his business in 2015, is being represented for free by Bamberg, a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.


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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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