Protesters condemn Sen. Lindsey Graham for accepting Robert Smalls Leadership Award

Local News

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Dozens of protesters tried to ruin a party Friday for South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

They marched outside Hampton Hall while Bluffon’s Republican Party awarded the Senator the Robert Smalls Leadership Award. 

As the name suggests, the award is given to someone who demonstrates leadership and courage as Smalls did.

Smalls is hailed by many as a Civil War Hero. He is best known for taking control of a Confederate ship and freeing himself from slavery. Afterward, Smalls represented Beaufort in the U.S. Congress.

On Friday, protesters feared Smalls would be horrified by the ceremony for Senator Graham. 

“Robert Smalls would probably be rolling over in his grave,” said Mitch Siegel, a protester and Bluffton resident. 

Siegel is part of Lowcountry Indivisible — the group responsible for the hours-long protest outside the main gates of Hampton Hall. 

The group says Graham’s voting record — specifically relating to civil rights and detention centers — disqualifies him.

“I don’t know if I deserve it,” said Sen. Graham in an interview with News 3. “I don’t deserve a lot of crap, so I’ll take the award.”  

“The Senator has a 22 percent approval rating by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People),” said Siegel. “Does that sound like a man who is a civil rights advocate to you?”

Some drivers had a problem with the protesters. Many chanted back with “Make America great again.” Other drivers honked their horns in support of the line of people. 

“They represent a point of view but is it a majority point of view?” said Graham. “Is it a mainstream point of view in South Carolina? I don’t think so. But god bless them, let them have their say.” 

Lowcountry Indivisible is also protesting Senator Graham for not coming to a town hall this summer. 850 people signed a petition asking the senator to come.

“I’ll be back, but the state job is pretty big,” said Graham. “I’m the chairman of the Judiciary Committee who just confirmed the 150th judge and we’re on track to set a record.”

Protesters say they will continue to protest Graham’s policies and for his attendance at a future town hall. 

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