Filmmaker Michael Moore announced on social media he would pay the bail and “any legal fees” incurred by activist Brittany “Bree” Newsome Saturday, when she is believed to have climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse to remove the Confederate flag that customarily flies there.
Moore, a liberal activist best known for documentary movies such as “Bowling for Columbine,” “Capitalism: A Love Story” and “Sicko,” took to Twitter to request that Newsome’s friends notify her about his offer:
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) June 27, 2015
Newsome was identified on social media as the woman who scaled the statehouse flagpole and was arrested by State Capitol police along with a man who had entered the grounds with her. The Associated Press reported saturday morning that the flag was replaced and raised a short time later.
Booking photos of a woman identified as Brittany Ann Newsome and a man identified as James Ian Tyson were posted online. Columbia, South Carolina, news station WLTX-TV added the photos to its Twitter account.
Booking photos of two the people arrested for taking down flag. pic.twitter.com/4fxqKPPVIh
— News 19 WLTX (@WLTX) June 27, 2015
Newsome’s actions inspired the hashtag #KeepItDown and #FreeBree, which were both top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. Others on Twitter and across social media platforms have lauded the act and called for Newsome to be released. Civil-rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson also announced his support for Newsome and commended her for her actions. Jackson also called for her release, but stopped short of offering to bail Newsome out of jail.
The incident is the latest in the battle over whether to remove the flag, which is protected by South Carolina law. Opposition to the flag's presence has been renewed since nine African-Americans were killed in what police called a hate crime at a Charleston church last week. Gov. Nikki Haley and a group of the state’s top lawmakers called for the flag to be removed during a press conference last week. However, the proposal to take it down must be approved by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the South Carolina Legislature.