South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the grounds of the state house in Columbia.
During a press conference yesterday, Haley called for the flag to be removed, saying the flag’s removal eliminates a divisive symbol. The state legislature must approve the flag’s removal.
The call for the flag’s removal comes less than a week after nine people were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The gunman — Dylann Roof — was arrested in North Carolina and faces murder charges for the shooting.
“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” NBC News quoted Haley as saying during a conference. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott and other state leaders attended the conference.
“The murderer, now locked up in Charleston, said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening,” Haley said, according to NBC News. “My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven.”
In a statement, Scott agreed it is now time for the flag to be removed.
“I do not believe the vast majority of folks who support the flag have hate in their hearts. Their heritage is a part of our state’s history, and we should not ignore that,” Scott said.
“However, for so many others in our state, the flag represents pain and oppression,” Scott added. “Because of that, as a life-long South Carolinian, as someone who loves this state and will never call anywhere else home, I believe it is time for the flag to come down.”