On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag that flies outside the state Capitol building in Columbia. The announcement came a few days after a white individual opened fire at a historic black church, and incident that killed nine people.
The support has grown following the gruesome attack, with political leaders around the country coming together to address the issue of taking down the flag.
In a news conference attended by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and other leaders, Nikki Haley said, “Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” as reported by NBC News.
“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said.
July 4th is just around the corner. It will be fitting that our state Capitol will soon fly the flags of our country & state, and no others.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) June 22, 2015
The flag can only be taken down if two-thirds of the state legislature votes in favor of the removal.
Graham and Scott of South Carolina, have shown their support for taking down the flag from the state legislature’s grounds, according to CNN.
In a written statement, Graham said, “After the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag.
“In the worst of tragedies, we have seen the best of South Carolina. Today, I am urging that the Confederate battle flag be removed from statehouse grounds to an appropriate location. I hope that, by removing the flag, we can take another step towards healing and recognition — and a sign that South Carolina is moving forward.”
After the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 22, 2015
Last week, a white gunman, Dylann Roof, fatally shot nine people inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what is being regarded as a hate crime. The incident reinforced the debate over the Confederate flag, which flies atop a flagpole outside the state Capitol building.
Roof confessed to the crime, saying that he wanted to start a “race war” with the incident. Shortly after his arrest, images that show him waving the Confederate flag surfaced online.
“The murderer now locked up in Charleston said he hoped his actions would start a race war,” Haley said. “We have an opportunity to show not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening.”
With the removal of the flag, Haley said she hopes the state can “move forward in harmony.”
“And we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven,” she added.
Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that although Haley’s acknowledgement of the issue is for the better, she has been too late to address the issue.
According to Yahoo News, Dees said, “She could not have gotten elected, I’m sure, had she taken this position when she was running for office because of the racism that honestly exists in South Carolina.”
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also called for the flag to be taken down on Monday, while presidential candidate Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker showed support for Haley’s announcement.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) June 22, 2015
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The time for a state to fly [the Confederate flag] has long since passed.”
Until 2000, the flag flew on the Capitol grounds. It was then removed under a compromise, and another version of the flag was placed at the top of the flagpole in front of the Statehouse.
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