Removing Confederate flag won’t be quick, or easy – USA TODAY
A group of political and religious leaders from Charleston, S.C. are headed to Columbia to call on state lawmakers to remove the Confederate battle flag flying on the State House grounds, but even if they manage to gain the needed votes, it may be months before the flag actually comes down.
Across the nation there has been a growing outcry for the flag to be removed after nine black worshipers were killed by a gunman with allegedly white supremacist views during a prayer meeting in a Charleston church last week.
The push to take down the flag is the latest chapter in a heated debate that has roiled the Palmetto State for more than 50 years, and several political obstacles make any quick resolution of the argument unlikely.
Prominent voices within South Carolina have joined in the call for the flag’s removal, including Gov. Nikki Haley who said, “It’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” during a press conference Monday.
House Speaker Jay Lucas on Monday called for a “swift resolution of this issue.”
The state legislature is set to meet Tuesday to discuss the budget, and officials, including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, have called on the legislators to stay in session and vote on removing the flag. They plan to continue that call at a rally in front of the State House at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
The Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III of the National Action Network is calling for the flag to be taken down before state Sen. Clementa Pinckney lies in state at the South Carolina Capitol on Wednesday.
Winning a vote to remove the flag will be no small feat, however, and it almost certainly won’t happen by Wednesday.
As part of a deal reached 15 years ago, two-thirds of both chambers of the state legislature must vote to remove the flag.
Kimpson says there is a “growing chorus” of members interested in taking up a debate on the flag during Tuesday’s session, but even to bring the matter up for discussion would require the support of two-thirds of the legislators.
What’s more, even if the lawmakers agree to discuss a bill calling for the flag’s removal, procedural hurdles will take time to overcome, state Rep. Todd Rutherford says. The bill would have to clear the judiciary committee and then come back to the floor for debate, Rutherford says.
“If I had to set a deadline, I’d say about August first, hopefully before September, but the House is going to work as soon as possible to get it done,” he told WLTX-TV.
Sen. Larry Martin, a Republican who heads the state Senate Judiciary Committee, said he favors waiting until at least next week to take on the matter.
Sen. Mike Fair, also a Republican, favors holding off until January for a debate, saying the push for a vote now is “almost being opportunistic.”
Gov. Haley said that if lawmakers don’t take up the the flag debate this summer, she will call them back for a special session.
“There will be a time for discussion and debate. The time for action is coming soon,” Haley said.
Haley is not the first South Carolina governor to call for the flag’s removal. In 1996, then Gov. David Beasley pushed to have it removed from the Capitol dome, only to back off and then be driven from office two years later in the political blowback.
The Confederate battle flag first flew atop the State House in 1962, as part of the Civil War centennial commemoration, where it remained, despite persistent protest from civil rights groups, until 2000. That year a political compromise led to the flag being removed from the Capitol Dome and another raised on a 30-foot flagpole at the Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the State House.
Many South Carolinians, such as Leland Summers, the head of the state’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, say the flag is about history and heritage, not hate.
“Do not associate the cowardly actions of a racist to our Confederate Banner,” Summers said in a statement. “There is absolutely no link between The Charleston Massacre and The Confederate Memorial Banner. Don’t try to create one.”
For others the flag is a symbol of the state’s legacy of slavery and racial oppression.
Rivers calls it a symbol of “hate and division.”
“The flag is the symbol of the worst of South Carolina’s past,” he said.
Haley said she is not interested in picking winners and losers in the debate, but said the time has come for the flag on the State House grounds to go.
“For those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way,” Haley said. “But the Statehouse is different. And the events of the past week call upon all of us to look at this in a different way.”
William Cummings reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY; Tony Santaella, WLTX-TV, Columbia, S.C.; and the Associated Press
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to call for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state capitol.
Kinfay Moroti/USA Today
A message of hope was spread through Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on Sunday. The church held its first worship service since a shooting that left 9 people dead. Even those that had to worship outside were happy to be there.
Members of Mother Emanuel AME Church return to service Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina. Thousands of people listened to the service outside the church.
Kinfay Moroti/ USA TODAY
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church opened its doors on Sunday for the first time following a deadly shooting that killed 9 church members. (June 21)
Church bells rang throughout Charleston in remembrance of nine people who were slain during a Bible study. (June 21)
Members of a historic black church worshiped at their sanctuary Sunday for the first time since a gunman opened fire at a Bible study, killing nine people. (June 21)
A time of mourning after the Charleston church shooting in South Carolina is bringing people together from different races and religions.
The mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina alludes to the city’s historic racial strife. Local resident share their thoughts on Charleston’s past, present and future. VIDEO BY KINFAY MOROTI/USA TODAY
A manifesto purportedly written by accused killer Dylann Roof could explain why Charleston was targeted in the church shootings and what motivated the deadly attack.
Loved ones share their memories of those killed in the shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as well as their thoughts on the accused killer Dylann Roof.
Charleston residents joined hands and voices at the city’s first official vigil following the murders of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will send armed posses of volunteers to 60 black churches around Phoenix, following the deadly attack on a historically black church in Charleston. Arpaio’s office has previously been accused of racial profiling.
The murders of nine African Americans inside a historically black Charleston church have reignited calls to take down the Confederate flag outside South Carolina’s Statehouse, but the historic symbol won’t come down easily, if it does at all.
Charleston residents share thier thoughts Friday on forgiving Dylan Roof, who has been charged with nine counts of murder in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church is Charleston, South Carolina. Video by Kinfay Moroti/USA TODAY
Family members of the nine victims killed in a shooting at a Charleston church confronted the suspect Dylann Roof in court Friday, sending a powerful and emotional message.
Charleston, South Carolina Mayor Joseph Riley said although he doesn’t condone the death penalty, he thinks prosecutors will seek it in the Emanuel AME church shooting.
In the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C. shooting, a North Carolina police department is offering special training sessions for religious leaders who want to know how to bette keep their congregations safe.
The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people as they worshiped at a Charleston, South Carolina church has a criminal past. Dylann Roof was arrested twice this year and images of him posted to social media seem to show a racist ideology.
Dylann Roof, the suspect in the mass shootings that killed nine at a Charleston church, appeared in court for his bond hearing Friday. Family members of the victims addressed Roof emotionally, and said that they “forgive” him and “hate won’t win.”
Families talk about the challenges of explaining the Charleston church shooting to young children.
Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of shooting and killing nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC is led out of the Shelby, NC Police Dept. in handcuffs and a bullet proof vest. He was caught in Shelby with the help of a tip.
A memorial for the nine people who died at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston when a gunman opened fire on a prayer service is growing, as people gather to pay tribute to the dead while focusing on healing.
Jon Stewart’s latest ‘Daily Show’ appearance was a somber one â in the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, where Dylann Roof is accused of killing six women and three men Wednesday, Stewart decided to forego his usual jokes completely.
The suspect in the mass shotting at a Charleston church, Dylann Storm Roof, was captured in Shelby, North Carolina, thanks to a tip from a local florist.
Night at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina is filled with despair, remembrance and small flames of hope, Video by Kinfay Moroti/USA TODAY
Members of a neighboring church attended a special service before walking over to the Emanuel AME church to pay their respect to the victims lost in the mass shooting.
The community of Charleston, SC is coming together to remember the lives of those killed inside the Emanuel AME Church.
Scenes from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people were killed in a mass shooting Wednesday during service.
Kinfay Moroti, Gannett
On the heels of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, historic black churches in Atlanta not only grieve, but rethink security measures.
Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the nine victims of a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
Charleston authorities have arrested 21-year-old Dylann Roof in connection with the killing of nine people at Emanuel AME church. Roof was arrested during a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina.
The community of Charleston, South Carolina is coming together to mourn the victim’s of the Emaneul AME Church shooting.
South Carolina state senators became emotional during Thursday’s session as they reflected on slain state Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was among those killed in the Charleston church shooting. His chair was draped in black fabric in his absence.
President Obama spoke about the tragedy at a church in Charleston, S.C., saying he’s made a speech like this too often. The president says he knew the pastor who was killed at the Emanuel AME church, where 9 people were killed while praying.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley got emotional while speaking at a press conference about the massacre at Emanuel AME church in Charleston where a gunman opened fire at a prayer service killing nine people.
Speaking at a press conference, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the shooting that killed 9 people at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina both “barbaric” and “heartless.”
Pastor Clementa Pinckney is among those killed in a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The 41-year-old was also serving as a South Carolina state senator at the time of his death.
Chief Gregory Mullen emphasized his department’s commitment to catching the man suspected of killing nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Police confirm they currently do not know where the suspect is.
After news of South Carolina state senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney’s death at the hands of a gunman at his Charleston church, fellow State Senator Kevin Johnson said Pinckney had a passion for the less fortunate in his state.
Nine people, including state senator Celementa Pinckney, were killed during a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. Pinckney was also the pastor of the church. Police say the shooting was a hate crime.
The S.C. state Senator and pastor killed when a gunman shot up his Charleston church was an advocate for safe churches. In the state legislator in 2013, Sen. Clementa Pinckney supported a bill that would expand penalties for church vandalism.
Authorities are looking for a young white man in connection to the massacre at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC where a gunman opened fire, killing nine people.