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A Confederate flag flies from a parking deck outside the arena before a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Greenville, S.C., Sunday, March 19, 2017. A small group of protesters flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to the arena hosting two men's NCAA Tournament games. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Protesters flew a large Confederate flag next to NCAA arena in South Carolina


A group of protesters in Greenville, South Carolina, flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to the arena hosting two NCAA Tournament games. 

The protesters arrived Sunday morning and raised the flag from the back of a pickup truck. Protesters told reporters that they plan for the flag to fly throughout the games and be visible for fans as they arrive at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. 

The NCAA lifted its ban against South Carolina holding championships in 2015.

Greenville police had protesters move the flag back about 50 feet, saying it could be dangerous if the flag were to tip over. 

In addition to the large flag, about a dozen protesters carrying Confederate flags gathered across from the arena's main entrance in an attempt to make their presence known to the NCAA.

NCAA executive Dan Gavitt said in a statement that the organization is committed to assuring that its 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," Gavitt said. "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.”

South Carolina was previously unable to host NCAA predetermined championships because of a ban that began in 2001.

That all changed in 2015 after convicted shooter, Dylann Roof  -- who was seen in photos with the Confederate flag -- killed nine black church parishioners in Charleston.

After the deadly shooting, state lawmakers voted to remove the flag from capitol grounds. That prompted the NCAA to lift its sanctions on the state. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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