Protesters fly Confederate flag outside Greenville arena

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – A small group of protesters flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to the arena where two men’s NCAA Tournament games are being played.

The group arrived Sunday morning, raising the flag from the back of a pickup truck. They planned to stay throughout the games and be on grounds as fans arrived at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Protesters say they hope to make their presence known to the NCAA. The governing body lifted its ban against South Carolina holding championships in 2015.

The NCAA issues a statement after protesters displayed a Confederate flag outside of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville Sunday.

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.

On Sunday, North Carolina plays Arkansas followed by Duke against South Carolina.

The NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt issued this statement: “The NCAA is proud and excited to host championships in the state of South Carolina once again. We are committed to assuring that our events are safe and accessible to all.  No symbols that compromise that commitment will be permitted to be displayed on venue property that the tournament controls.  Freedom of speech activities on public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville and we are supportive of the city’s efforts.”

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