CHARLESTON/COLUMBIA,S.C.-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on June 22 called on lawmakers to take down the Confederate battle flag in the state capital, a week after a white gunman allegedly shot dead nine black worshipers at a historic church. The flag that has flown at the State House grounds in Columbia for the past half century became a fresh focus of criticism in recent days after the Charleston church massacre.
“It’s time to move the flag from the capital grounds,” Haley, a Republican, told a news conference in the state capital. “The flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.” Haley called on lawmakers, whose normal legislative year wraps up this week, to address the issue over the summer and said she would order a special session if they did not. Opponents of flying the flag at the State House grounds consider it an emblem of slavery that has become a rallying symbol for racism and xenophobia in the United States. Supporters, who fly the flag at their homes, wear it on clothing and put it on bumper stickers, see it is a symbol of the South’s history and culture, as well a memorial to the roughly 480,000 Confederate Civil War casualties. That figure includes the dead, wounded and prisoners. A group of both black and white leaders called for a rally June 23 at the State House in Columbia to bring their demand directly to lawmakers.