Gov. Robert Bentley Orders Confederate Flags To Be Removed & Here's When You Can Expect To See It Gone
With the enduring presence of the Confederate battle flag sparking controversy and calls for action in a number of states across the American south, another Republican governor has come down on the side of ditching the inflammatory emblem. And this time, there won't be any kind of wait on legislative procedures — simply put, it's outta there. On Wednesday morning, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the Confederate flags removed from the state's capitol grounds, and they've already been pulled down.
It's a sharp contrast to the situation in South Carolina, which has understandably drawn an enormous amount of attention. The Palmetto State, after all, is where the heartbreaking mass shooting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston took place last week, which left nine people dead, allegedly at the hands of 21-year-old Dylann Roof. After a vitriolic, racist manifesto was discovered online, complete with an image of Roof (who's been charged with nine counts of murder) posing with the Confederate flag, the outcry intensified in volume, after which South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley reversed her position and came out against the flag's flying over the state capitol grounds.
It's not as simple in South Carolina as it apparently is in Alabama, however. In Bentley's case, according to AL.com, he simply made the call himself, and within hours the flag was gone.
Yes, partially this is about [Charleston]. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.
For Haley, there are legislative barriers to doing this, since South Carolina conservatives wrote the flag's appearance into the very fabric of the law. The process is moving along, with the South Carolina House voting 103-10 to bring up the flag for debate, but according to the Los Angeles Times, it could take until late July for that process to actually start.
In Bentley's case, however, things apparently a good deal more smoothly, as AL.com detailed. After deciding that the flag wasn't worth the inevitable public fallout and potential backlash — which seems like a safe bet, considering the flag's racist legacy, and how some Confederate monuments have recently been defaced in number of states — he checked to see whether there was any legal barrier to ordering its removal. And, upon finding none, he gave the A-OK.
It'll be intriguing to see which states this issue comes to next. There are plenty more state flags inspired by the Confederate emblem, after all, and it looks like American public opinion on the flag is turning in a big way.