It’s time to move the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds – South Carolina governor

South Carolina State House (Image from wikipedia.org)
The Governor of South Carolina said it is time for the Confederate flag to be removed from the State Capitol Building.

The statement comes amid public outrage overthe Confederate flagflying at the South Carolina State Capitol Building aftera mass shooting by a man who cloaked himself in the banner.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Sens. Lindsey Graham ‒ a presidential candidate ‒ and Tim Scott ‒ a South Carolinian and the only Republican African-American in the Senate ‒ joined forces Monday to call for the state to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.

“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill-will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” Haley announced at a press conference Monday afternoon. "A hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the time has come.”

“There will be a time for discussion and debate, but the time for action is coming soon,” she added.

The move is an abrupt and significant about-face in the state, which has resisted efforts to get rid of the symbol from the Civil War which flew over the Capitol Dome from 1962 until July 1, 2000. At that point, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill that allowed the flag to be moved from atop the dome and required it to be flown at the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Statehouse grounds. Both chambers of the General Assembly must pass a bill with a two-thirds vote in order to remove the flag from the monument.

The General Assembly wraps up their year this week, and, as governor, I have the authority to call them back into session under extraordinary circumstances. I have indicated to the House and the Senate that, if they do not take measures to ensure this debate takes place this summer, I will use that authority for the purpose of the legislature removing the flag from the Statehouse grounds,” Haley said. “That will take place in the coming weeks, after the regular session and the veto session have been completed.”

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The politicians’ statement comes days after a 21-year-old linked to a white supremacist group and who is accused of posting a racist manifesto online in an attempt to start a racial war killed nine people in a shooting spree at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Storm Roof, who confessed to the killings, posed with the Confederate flag in photos posted on social media.

“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble ‒ traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry,” Haley said. “The hate-filled murder who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it.”

While Haley asked for those outside the state not to judge South Carolina, she lashed out at those who might have holier-than-thou attitudes about their own state’s race relations.

“In just the last few months, the nation watched our state go through another time of crisis when we dealt with the betrayal of one of our own in the tragic shooting of Walter Scott,” Haley said. “South Carolina did not respond with rioting and violence like other places have. We responded by talking to each other, by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and by finding common ground in the name of moving our state forward.”

Walter Scott was killed by a police officer in April who shot him eight times in the back as he fled from a traffic stop.

Monday’s statement was vastly different than comments Haley made in October, during a gubernatorial debate while running for reelection. Then she admitted the flag was a “sensitive issue,” but still supported its placement on the Statehouse grounds, Salon reported.

“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”

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She said then ‒ and reiterated on Monday ‒ that the state had addressed its racial image problems by electing her twice, as well as electing Scott as senator. Scott is the only one of the three GOP politicians to have previously called for the flag to come down, according to McClatchy DC. However, he did not back those words up with action when it came time to vote on a measure to lower the flag in 2000.