South Carolina Gov. Haley Calls for Removal of Confederate Flag From State Property

Confederate flag
Confederate Flag flags on the capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C. |

Both of South Carolina's U.S. senators, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, and the state's governor, Nikki Haley, called for the removal of a Confederate flag display on the grounds of the state capitol.

At a press conference held Monday afternoon surround by other high-ranking elected officials, Haley said that while the flag was "an integral part of our past" that it must be moved.

"It's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds," said Haley, whose comments brought about a lengthy round of applause.

"One hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come … [the flag] does not represent the future of our great state."

The announcement by Haley and supported by a diverse group of other elected officials, including Scott and Graham, comes after a tragic shooting took place in the Palmetto state.

Graham's appearance at the event would seem to mark a change in his position since Friday, when he told CNN that the Confederate flag "works here."

Last week, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a historic African-American congregation, attended a Bible study and an hour into the meeting pulled out a gun and shot dead nine people in a widely denounced hate crime.

The hate crime in South Carolina reignited the debate over the presence of a Confederate battle flag on public grounds in the state capital.

Some have argued that the battle flag does not represent racism but rather Southern heritage, while others see it as symbolic of the white supremacist system of the Old South.

The action to remove the flag from the capitol grounds will involve action from the state legislature, according to the Post and Courier.

"The move comes as lawmakers are exploring if the removal can be done legislatively in the coming days, tying their heightened attention to the recent shooting deaths," reported the publication.

"Lawmakers have an unfinished budget, but are considering using the current extended session to address wording that would remove the flag from the Confederate monument as part of the 2015-'16 state spending plan."

This is not the first time that South Carolina has garnered controversy over having a Confederate flag on public property.

About 15 years ago South Carolina had a Confederate battle flag flying on the state capitol building itself until national outrage and activism from civil rights groups prompted its removal.

Haley's comments come as President Barack Obama will travel to Charleston to deliver a eulogy for the funeral services of one of the victims, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, on Friday.

People gather on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge in Charleston, June 21, 2015, after the first service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church since a mass shooting left nine people dead. Hundreds of people packed the sweltering Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston for an emotional memorial service on Sunday just days after a gunman, identified by authorities as Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, shot dead nine black church members. |

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