South Carolina lawmakers will begin debating Monday on whether to remove the Confederate flag from outside government buildings, an action that was initiated by the state’s governor Nikki Haley following the racially charged shooting at a Charleston church. In her first network interview since announcing that she’d fight to take down the Confederate battle symbol, Haley admits it’s not a certainty that she’ll secure the necessary votes – two-thirds majority from each chamber of the state’s General Assembly – to guarantee the flag’s permanent removal.
“I don’t think that this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless,” Haley told Today. “But I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly.” Charleston shooter Dylann Roof posed with the Confederate flag prominently displayed in photos that were unearthed after the June 17th massacre, sparking the call to take down the polarizing symbol from government buildings.
“I don’t know why this had to happen,” Haley said of the shooting that left nine people dead. “All I will say is we are blessed… You had nine amazing people welcome someone that didn’t look like them, didn’t act like them, and didn’t sound like them. And have him come and pray with them for an hour, and then have him kill them. The compassion and the love and the outpouring across South Carolina and across this country should give us all hope.”
The fight over the Confederate flag has ignited protests in South Carolina and other states where the flag is still flown, both from people demanding that state governments “Take it down” as well as demonstrators who want the flag to remain because of its ties to the South’s history. Today reports that robocalls went out to South Carolina households asking them to contact their state representative and tell them to “not stand with leftist fanatics who want to destroy the South” by taking down the Confederate flag.
Since the shooting in Charleston, major retailers like Walmart, Amazon and eBay have all promised to stop selling merchandise bearing the Confederate flag, while Apple’s iTunes App Store also banned any games or apps using the symbol for non-educational purposes.
However, while these retailers were removing Confederate symbols from their marketplaces, the flag continued to reside outside the South Carolina capitol building. That is, except on the morning of June 27th, when activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole and took down the Confederate flag. However, after Newsome was arrested for defacing a monument, the Confederate flag was returned to its pole outside the capitol building. Monday’s vote in South Carolina will determine whether the Confederate flag comes down permanently next time.