A bill that seeks to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds has passed a crucial second reading on Monday.
South Carolina senators voted an overwhelming 37-3 in favor of taking the flag down after an emotional debate in state senate. It was South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) who called for the flag’s removal days after the senseless June 17 killings of nine black church members in Charleston by a white man. Her proposal stirred a hefty approval from inside and outside South Carolina.
The Confederate flag got mired in the killings because it was used by Dylann Roof, the white gunman accused of the hate-crime. Photos emerged on a website showing him posing with the flag. The image also showed a racist manifesto.
The bill will face a final reading on Tuesday before it gets passed to the lower house of representatives. It must pass a two-thirds vote from the legislature before it formally gets recognized as a binding law.
State senator Vincent Sheheen said removing the flag “is one small step that reduces the culture of division.”
“I don’t think that this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless,” Haley said on NBC’s Today show regarding the removal of the Confederate flag which has flown for more than 50 years at the capitol. “But I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly.”
According to The South Carolina Governance Project, in South Carolina’s Legislature, a bill “must be read and adopted three times on three separate days in each body.” The Charleston Post and Courier reports that lawmakers seemed to have the two-thirds majority they need. The lowering of the flag could get voted upon and done with as soon as Thursday.
“When we vote for this bill to remove the flag it won’t be because of what happened a couple of weeks ago. But what happened a couple of weeks ago opened the eyes of many people in this chamber and many people in this state,” Sheheen told his colleagues.