Welcome signs to Goose Creek now bear the emblem of the NAACP as well as the Sons of Confederate Veterans emblem. Leroy Burnell/staff
The NAACP logo has been added to two "Welcome to Goose Creek" signs after the local chapter of the civil rights organization objected to the Sons of Confederate Veterans emblem being displayed on them.
NAACP Goose Creek Branch President David Cakley said he called Mayor Michael Heitzler, who told him the logo, which includes the Confederate battle flag, was protected under free speech.
"When the Confederate logo was brought to our attention about six months ago, our first response was to mount a protest at City Hall," Cakley said.
"But over a period of time, we decided to request that our logo would be placed on the welcoming sign instead of requesting that the Confederate sign be taken down," he said.
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The symbol for the defunct local Kiwanis Club chapter was removed, making space for the NAACP logo, Heitzler said.
"Any civic or professional organization that meets within our city limits, we'll welcome them," Heitzler said.
The NAACP logo was added to the signs at Saint James Avenue and U.S. Highway 52 about two weeks ago.
Lonnie Randolph, the state NAACP chairman, said he applauded the Goose Creek chapter's efforts, but he was not in favor of the NAACP being included on the sign with the Sons of Confederate Veterans because he felt it presented a confusing, contradictory message.
"I am not in support of being included in anything that the Confederacy stands for," he said. "I have some problem making a statement that this is progress."
The Confederacy was against everything that the U.S. and state constitutions represent, he said.
Randolph said he needed time to research whether the NAACP logo is present on any other town welcome signs.
A spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Goose Creek could not be contacted. The organization, known as Camp #2222, formed in 2012.
"The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America," the Goose Creek chapter says on its website.
"The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution," the chapter stated. "These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built."
To be considered for inclusion on the city welcome sign, an organization writes a letter to the city administrator. The mayor approves the request, said Jesica Mackey, Goose Creek spokeswoman.
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 requested that the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo be removed, but it remains there today.