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Greenville County councilman apologizes for Confederate flag shirt

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:31 AM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Greenville County councilman Lynn Ballard held a press conference Friday morning to apologize after a photo of him wearing a shirt with a Confederate flag received backlash.

Ballard said he was volunteering to build garden beds for nonprofit Upstate Circle of Friends when he wore the shirt and posted a picture wearing it on his personal Facebook page.

He says he removed the photo quickly after he was contacted about it by some who were upset.

“As a public official, I strive never to upset anyone,” Ballard said. “I meant no disrespect to anyone on either side of the issue. I made a mistake. I admit the mistake. I’m sorry for my poor choice and I promise to work hard to heal any damage that my actions have caused.”

Reverand Dr. U.A. Thompson spoke after Ballard’s apology and said the councilman initially planned to apologize at the next council meeting but Thompson asked him to address it sooner.

“It was disrespectful to the community,” Thompson said.

But Thompson said mistakes don’t necessarily define people.

“As a pastor, it’s hard to argue with ‘I’m sorry,’” Thompson said. “If someone is genuinely sorry, you must accept that for what it is. All of us make mistakes.”

Local activist Bruce Wilson spoke after the press conference, saying he believes Ballard should have apologized sooner.

“We should get rid of those images. Period,” Wilson said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement supporting Ballard’s apology.

“We welcome Mr. Ballard’s public apology and urge elected officials and community leaders nationwide to follow his example of finally recognizing the negative impact such symbols of systemic racism and white supremacy have on our society,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

CAIR has repeatedly called for the removal of Confederate flags across the nation.