Governor Nikki Haley has spoken.
In a press conference today from the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina, Haley announced that the Confederate flag will be taken down from the capitol grounds. She has called for the state’s general assembly to vote on the issue this summer. During her speech, Haley said:
“For many people in our state, the [Confederate] flag symbolizes traditions of history…in no way does [Dylann Roof] reflect the many people in our state who respect and revere it…As a state, we can survive and indeed thrive as a home for people with [opposing] viewpoints. The events of the past week call us to look upon this in a different way…It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.”
Haley noted that many residents may be disappointed at the decision, as the flag represents the state’s legacy after the Civil War. However, she asserted that the flag can no longer be upheld as an icon of the state’s future, and that the flag will always represent a portion of South Carolina’s history whether it’s seen on state grounds or in a museum.
This comes after a host of other politicians in South Carolina called for the Confederate flag to be taken down including Senators Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham and Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley. Their series of statements were made after residents as well as empathetic celebrities like Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama, Janelle Monae and Sarah Silverman demanded that the flag be taken down from Charleston’s Capitol area. The sentiment is to take the flag down out of respect for the nine victims fatally shot in the Emmanuel AME Church massacre and to better reflect today’s more progressive, public attitudes on race relations and American patriotism.
Before, lawmakers argued they didn’t have the power to lower the flag out of respect for the fallen victims or to take the flag off of state grounds as residents had requested. They argued that this development had to be decided by the state’s general assembly. That provision was passed in 2000 when the flag was moved off of the state’s capitol building and over to a nearby monument for Confederate soldiers. Judging by Haley’s speech, it appears that should the general assembly vote not to move the flag, she will use her legislative powers as governor to veto their decision.
Simultaneously, it has just been announced that President Obama will be delivering Emanuel AME Church Pastor and Senator Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy at his funeral this Friday. Obama knew Pinckney prior to the shooting; Pinckney was highly revered in his community for his 14 years as a state senator and his past as a gun control advocate. He also played a crucial role in the response to Walter Scott’s death at the hands of local police. Pinckney was only 41 years old and left behind a wife and two daughters.
The city of Charleston itself has quickly banded together in protest to the white supremacy that claimed the lives of the nine churchgoers that fatally night last Wednesday. This morning, it was reported that the Confederate memorial in Charleston near to Mother Emanuel was spray painted with the words “Black Lives Matter” yesterday.
— Philip Weiss (@PhilipDWeiss) June 21, 2015
However, the people of Charleston have been noted for being highly peaceful. Thousands joined hands in the streets to show their support for the victims’ families late Sunday evening. Residents played music and sang songs to honor the dead as they gathered in Mount Pleasant to journey across the Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge leading to Charleston. A young girl is also making the rounds on social media for her drawings depicting the Emanuel nine as angels looking over the people of Charleston.
Roof’s friends are continuously making statements musing on the terrorist’s past and reasoning behind his attack. One cousin is suggesting that Roof may have lashed out for feeling slighted after a woman he was attracted to began dating a Black man. Another friend insists Roof wasn’t a racist although Roof had a hobby of visiting his home state’s most notorious plantations. Finally, another associate claims he took away Roof’s gun shortly before his attack, as Roof had been making disturbing comments suggesting that he was going to attack black people. Roof is currently under suicide watch after being brought into custody. People are now outraged to learn that Roof was given a free Burger King meal by the police while he was being detained.