UNION COUNTY — Gov. Nikki Haley’s call for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the State Capitol is being applauded and supported by a number of local officials.
In a press conference in North Charleston Monday afternoon, Haley, joined by a number of other state officials, called upon the SC General Assembly to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the State Capitol.
Haley and other officials are calling for the flag’s removal in response to the Mother Emanuel Church shooting that left nine people, including the church’s pastor, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, dead.
The shooting took place on June 17 during a Wednesday night worship service. Authorities identified the shooter as Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Eastover, who was taken into custody Thursday morning. Roof, who is white, has since confessed to the shooting and reportedly told investigators that he wanted to start a race war. All of those killed at Mother Emanuel Church were African-Americans.
Prior to the shooting, Roof posted photos on social media of himself holding a Confederate Battle Flag.
In calling for the Confederate Battle Flag’s removal, Haley pointed out that the flag has become a symbol of divisiveness, contrasting that with how South Carolinians have come together to pray and heal in the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting. She said this coming together of the people of South Carolina is an opportunity to move the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the State Capitol and help promote healing and continued unity and move the state forward.
Haley’s call for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the State Capitol is supported by a number of officials in Union County.
Ann Stevens, chairman of the Union County Democratic Party and a member of the Carlisle Town Council, said Tuesday morning that she was proud of how the state has come together for the removal of the flag and that she hopes the state legislature will act on it as quickly as possible.
“I am excited and proud that the state has come together and united to move forward and remove the flag from the state grounds,” Stevens said. “I just hope the legislature on both sides will come together to expedite the process and removal.”
Carlisle Mayor Mary Ferguson-Glenn praised Haley for her decision, saying that it was time for the flag to be removed from the grounds of the State Capitol.
“I think it’s a great thing she’s done,” Ferguson-Glenn said. “It’s about time that it came down and I just respect her for doing that. I hope the legislature in Columbia will follow through.”
Union Mayor Harold Thompson thanked Haley for calling for the removal of what he said is a symbol of oppression and hatred from the Civil War.
“I want to thank Gov. Haley for recognizing that this flag is a symbol of oppression and hatred,” Thompson said. “It should be taken off the State House grounds immediately and without reservation. When you really study the history the flag, there’s no doubt that it was a hate symbol of the Civil War era. Those who disagree, I believe, are in a state of denial.”
Mike Fowler, chairman of the Union County Republican Party, said he feels the flag’s removal will not be detrimental to the heritage of South Carolinians and said the state must look toward the future.
“I don’t believe that taking down the flag injures the heritage of a single South Carolinian,” Fowler said. “We need to look toward the future for this great state and hope that the legacy of those who were killed not be lost.”
SC House District 42 Rep. Mike Anthony said he supports moving the flag and praised both Haley for calling on the General Assembly to do so and the families of the victims of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting for the example they set in forgiving the killer of their loved ones.
“I feel that the example of the nine families made when they met face to face with the killer of their loved ones demonstrated how love can overtake hatred,” Anthony said. “I believe to many this flag means hatred and I believe this is what turned the hearts of our leaders and I give Gov. Haley all the praise for challenging us as legislators to make a decision about the Confederate Flag flying on the grounds of the State House.”
Anthony said that he favors moving the flag to the State Museum where its history and the memory of those who served under it can be appropriately honored.
“I do believe the honor and sacrifice during the War Between the States needs to be honored,” Anthony said. “The perfect place for that may be our own State Museum.”