Confederate flag controversy

(WIAT) —UPDATE: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from Statehouse property at a Monday afternoon press conference.

Haley said that this decision belongs to the people of South Carolina.

She said in her speech that the flag means different things to different South Carolinians. For some, Haley said, they respect it, and “also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during a time of great conflict. That is not hate. Nor is it racism.”

Haley continued, “At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry released a statement of approval for Haley’s leadership:

 The decision to remove the Confederate flag needs to be made by the people of South Carolina, and Gov. Haley’s leadership today honors the people of Charleston, and the families of the victims of last week’s horrific hate crime.

Removing the flag is an act of healing and unity, that allows us to find a shared purpose based on the values that unify us. May God continue to be with the families of the victims in Charleston, and the great people of South Carolina.

According to Haley, Dylan Roof, the Charleston shooting suspect, had a sick and twisted view of the flag that does not represent the view of those who respect it.

Haley asked that the focus not be on the flag, but instead on the nine victims who lost their lives.

Haley said that although the General Assembly wraps up its year this week, she “indicated to the House and Senate that if they do not take measures to ensure this debate takes place this summer, [she] will use that authority [to call them back into session] for the purpose of the legislature removing the flag from the Statehouse grounds.”

ORIGINAL: The life of the Charleston shooting suspect is prompting discussion over a long-time symbol of the Deep South: the Confederate flag.

Investigations into Dylann Roof uncovered a photo of him posing next to a car with a South Carolina license plate with a picture of a Confederate flag.

Confederate flag depictions are not an unusual sight here in the south.

In fact, the flag still flies at a monument in front of the South Carolina state house.

This is renewing debate about the flag and what it represents.

“Some will assert the confederate flag is merely a symbol of years gone by. A symbol of heritage and not hate. But where we see that symbol lifted up as an emblem of hate, as a tool of hate, as an inspiration for hate, as an inspiration for violence. That symbol has to come down. That symbol must be removed from our state capitol,” said Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President.

The confederate flag was taken down from the South Carolina’s statehouse dome in 2000, and moved to a confederate soldier’s monument next door.

Brooks is calling for the flag to be removed completely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina said the flag is not the issue.

“We’re not going to give this guy an excuse about a book he might have read, or a movie he watched, or a song he listened to, or a symbol out anywhere. It’s him. It’s not the book. It’s not the movie. It’s not the flag. it’s him,” Graham said.

The Confederate flag stopped flying over the Alabama state capitol in 1992.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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