When Could The Confederate Flag Come Down In S.C.?
It has emerged that some photos of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, the alleged Emanuel AME Church shooter, show him posing with the confederate flag and other racist, Apartheid-era South African flags, according to CNN. Backlash surrounding the photos has caused South Carolina lawmakers to renew the push to remove the flag from the state capitol building. If they are successful, when would South Carolina's confederate flag be removed? The state could vote to have the flag removed as early as Tuesday.
Gov. Nikki Haley and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a 2016 presidential hopeful, called for the flag to be removed during press conferences Tuesday, according to NBC News. Officials including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and local Democratic state Sen. Marlon Kimpson also called on legislators Monday to stay in session and vote as early as Tuesday to remove the flag from its place in front of the statehouse in Columbia, according to the Associated Press. Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III of the National Action Network told the AP that the flag should be removed before the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney lies in state at the statehouse on Wednesday. Pinckney was one of the nine people shot and killed during a prayer session at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on Wednesday.
Kimpson told the AP that he's informed state Senate leaders that there's a "growing chorus" of members who want to take up the flag debate this week while lawmakers are in session discussing the budget. Unfortunately, if lawmakers don't take the issue up this week, then it might have to wait until January, when Republican state Rep. Doug Brannon has promised to introduce a bill to remove the flag, according to CNN. Because of stipulations within the 2000 compromise that allowed the flag to remain at the statehouse, a formal bill could only be passed if two-thirds of both the state House and Senate — a supermajority — voted to support it.
That's why Kimpson is calling for Senate leaders to talk about the issue this week. South Carolina can use bipartisan agreements to take action on legislation faster. Lawmakers did this, for example, this year on body camera legislation after the shooting death of Walter Scott by a white police officer, according to CNN. In a press conference Monday, Mayor Riley said removing the flag would "do something very personal," according to NBC:
Take away Mr. Roof's symbol of misguided idea of racial superiority and bigotry. Take it away from him and all like him and give the front of our state Capitol equally and fairly to every citizen of South Carolina.
Unfortunately, not every agrees with Riley's view. The Sons of Confederate Veterans released a statement Monday saying that it would fight any effort to remove the flag from South Carolina's capitol, according to the AP. It said that, though the shooting at Emanuel AME was horrifying, there is "absolutely no link" between the shooting and the flag as a symbol. Chris Sullivan, who is a member of the Sons of the Confederacy, told CNN that the flag is more of a symbol of history than of racism or slavery in the South:
It's a symbol of family and my ancestors who defended the state from invasion. It was about standing up to a central government. The things that our ancestors fought for were not novel and they really are the same issues we have today.
The flag will stand and incite intimidation or fear in black people if South Carolina doesn't act on it this week.
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