CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday the Confederate flag should be removed from the grounds of the state capitol, reversing her position on the divisive symbol amid growing calls for it to be removed.
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The Republican’s about-face comes after nine black church members were gunned down, allegedly by a young white man who embraced the flag as a symbol of white supremacy.
“150 years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come,” Haley said after rousing applause, surrounded by Democrats and Republican lawmakers. “That flag, while an integral part of the past, does not represent the future of our great state”
The flag has flown in front of the state capitol for 15 years after being moved from atop the Statehouse dome.
U.S. Sens. Lindsay Graham and Tim Scott, an African-American appointed by Haley, were standing with Haley during her announcement. When she finished, she hugged Scott and South Carolina’s only other black congressman, Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn.
The announcement came after state lawmakers met urgently with each other and the governor. The head of the Republican National Committee has also called for its removal.
State House Speaker Jay Lucas said in a statement that last week’s “terrorizing act of violence shook the very core of every South Carolinian.”
“Moving South Carolina forward from this terrible tragedy requires a swift resolution of this issue,” he said earlier in the day.
A growing number of religious and political leaders said they would push for the flag’s removal Tuesday during a rally in the capitol. The White House said President Barack Obama respects the state of South Carolina’s authority to decide the issue, but believes the flag belongs in a museum.
“The flag got appropriated by hate groups. We can’t put it in a public place where it can give any oxygen to hate-filled people,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., a Democrat.
SOURCE: CBN News