The chairman of the South Carolina Secessionist Party, a group responsible for at least two Confederate flag displays in the city of Clemson, says the group is dissolving. James Bessenger told The Anderson Independent Mail on Friday that “the organization was taking a turn I didn’t want it to take.” Bessenger, who is gay, said that the people genuinely interested in history were being outnumbered by “blatant and racist homophobes.” He says membership fractured before the move of the Confederate flag that once flew above the South Carolina State House to the state Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum this month. Despite removing the main Facebook page, other groups using the Secessionist Party name remain active. A group specific to Anderson County has over 600 members, while a group for the Upstate had over 2,200 members.
Keegan Hankes, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said the South Carolina Secessionist Party was relatively minor in the larger Confederate movement. Hankes said the group was mostly involved in flagging events like those in Clemson.