SC Gov. Nikki Haley calls for removal of confederate flag from statehouse grounds

The Sons of Confederate Veterans says it plans to vigorously fight any effort to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina's Statehouse.
CHARLESTON, SC – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley held a press conference Monday afternoon calling for the removal of the confederate flag from the SC Statehouse grounds.

An excerpt from Governor Nikki Haley’s speech:

“…For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble.  Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.  The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag.  In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty.  They 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.

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

As a state, we can survive, and indeed we can thrive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints.  We do not need to declare a winner and a loser.  We respect freedom of expression, and for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.  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.

Fifteen years ago, after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to remove the flag from atop the Capitol dome.  Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.  One hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War . . . the time has come.

There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment.  I respect that.  But know this.  For good and for bad, whether it is on the Statehouse grounds or in a museum, the flag will always be a part of the soil of South Carolina.  But this is a moment in which we can say that the flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state…”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham issued the following statement on the confederate flag:

“In the worst of tragedies, we have seen the best of South Carolina. Today, I am urging that the Confederate Battle Flag be removed from statehouse grounds to an appropriate location. After the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag. The love and forgiveness displayed by victims of this horrific, racially motivated shooting, along with all the people of Charleston, is an example to us all. The victims’ families and the parishioners of the Mother Emanuel AME Church reflect everything good about the Christian religion and the people of South Carolina. I hope that, by removing the flag, we can take another step towards healing and recognition – and a sign that South Carolina is moving forward.”

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) released the following statement after calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds:

“Character is often revealed during our darkest days, and the world has learned much about South Carolina’s character since last week’s tragedy.  The way our communities and state have come together, the way we have seen love overpower hate, kindness soothe our pain, and good will defeat hostility, is absolutely incredible.  After the terrible tragedy at Mother Emanuel in Charleston last week, fueled by hate and racism, our hearts were broken. While the Confederate battle flag did not cause this violent act, it is clear that our state and the people of South Carolina have reopened the debate on the flag.  There is no doubt that South Carolina has a rich and complex history, and the Confederate battle flag is a part of that. The flag means many things to many people.  I do not believe the vast majority of folks who support the flag have hate in their hearts. Their heritage is a part of our state’s history, and we should not ignore that. However, for so many others in our state, the flag represents pain and oppression.  Because of that, as a life-long South Carolinian, as someone who loves this state and will never call anywhere else home, I believe it is time for the flag to come down.  I hope the South Carolina General Assembly will move to this topic swiftly, so that our state can continue to move forward. Following last week’s tragedy, South Carolina has been united as never before, and because of that love and hope, I have never been more proud to be from here.  We continue to pray for the families of State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson and all of the members of Emanuel AME. Their strength, their dignity through these terrible times has been amazing. God bless them, and God bless the people of South Carolina.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued this statement:

“For decades community leaders in South Carolina – and across the country – have been calling to get rid of this symbol of hatred, and action has been long overdue.  But this is just the beginning of a conversation we as a society need to have about race, bigotry and violence in this country – not the end of one.”

At an earlier press conference in North Charleston, SC a group of Charleston-area political and religious leaders are called on state lawmakers to vote this week to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capital grounds.

Officials including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and Democratic state Sen. Marlon Kimpson in North Charleston on Monday called on legislators to stay in session and vote as early as Tuesday to take down the flag from its place in front of the statehouse in Columbia.

The Rev. Nelson B Rivers III of the National Action Network said the flag should be removed before the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney lies in state at the Statehouse on Wednesday. Pinckney and eight other church members were shot to death last week as they attended Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
Kimpson says he’s informed state Senate leaders that there is a “growing chorus” of members interested in taking up a debate while lawmakers are in session to discuss the budget.

With Representative John R. King (D-York) leading the charge, 6 members of the SC Legislative Black Caucus are set to introduce a resolution tomorrow that will amend the Sine Die Resolution to allow debate to begin on removal of the confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds and hate crime legislation.

“It is time for the General Assembly to take responsibility for the people of South Carolina,” states Rep. King.  “After last Wednesday, there is no denying that hate crime legislation is needed.  We are behind the times and leaving our citizens vulnerable. We must act now to do everything we can to protect the citizens of South Carolina and that includes the removal of the confederate battle flag. We cannot wait until January. It starts tomorrow June 23rd”.

The members include, Rep. Mia McLeod  (D-Richland), Rep. Pat Henegan (D-Marlboro), Rep. Chris Hart (D-Richland), Rep. Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg), Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston).   Further information will be released on tomorrow, June 23rd after the resolution is voted upon.

The White House says President Barack Obama believes the Confederate flag should no longer be flown in Charleston, South Carolina, or elsewhere, but doesn’t have authority over that decision.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama has maintained for years that the Confederate flag “should be taken down and placed in a museum where it belongs,” but recognizes it’s an issue for individual states.

Earnest says it’s very clear what Obama thinks would be the appropriate action.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans says it plans to vigorously fight any effort to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s Statehouse.

The group says it was horrified at last week’s shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, allegedly by a white man who was photographed several times holding the Confederate flag and with other symbols of white supremacy.

In a statement, the group says there is “absolutely no link” between the massacre and the banner.

Leland Summers, South Carolina commander of the group, says the group is about heritage and history, not hate. He offered condolences to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and says now is not the time to make political points.

Summers said the Sons of Confederate Veterans have 30,000 members nationwide that will fight any attempt to move the flag.

Contact your representatives in the SC legislature and let them know what you think:

SC Senate
Senator Sean Bennett – Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 821-3009
Senator Paul G. Campbell, Jr. – Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 296-1001
Senator George E. “Chip” Campsen, III – Beaufort, Charleston & Colleton Counties – (843) 722-0123
Senator Raymond E. Cleary, III – Charleston, Georgetown & Horry Counties – (843) 650-5100
Senator Tom Davis – Beaufort & Jasper Counties – (843) 252-8583
Senator Lawrence K. “Larry” Grooms – Berkeley & Charleston Counties – (803) 212-6400
Senator Marlon E. Kimpson – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (803) 212-6056
Senator John W. Matthews, Jr. – Berkeley, Calhoun, Colleton, Dorchester & Orangeburg Counties – (803) 212-6056
Senator Ronnie A. Sabb – Berkeley, Florence, Georgetown, Horry & Williamsburg Counties – (843) 355-5349
Senator Paul Thurmond – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 937-8000

SC House
Representative Carl L. Anderson – Georgetown, Horry & Williamsburg Counties – (843) 546-5332
Representative Justin T. Bamberg – Bamberg, Barnwell & Colleton Counties – (803) 682-2860
Representative William K. “Bill” Bowers – Beaufort, Hampton & Jasper Counties – (803) 914-2142
Representative Jeffrey A. “Jeff” Bradley – Beaufort County – (843) 342-6918
Representative Robert L. Brown – Charleston & Colleton Counties – (843) 889-6440
Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter – Orangeburg County – (803) 534-2448
Representative William E. “Bill” Crosby – Berkeley & Charleston Counties – (803) 212-6879
Representative Joseph S. Daning – Berkeley County – (803) 734-2951
Representative Shannon S. Erickson – Beaufort County – (843) 986-1090
Representative Wendell G. Gilliard – Charleston County – (843) 209-3123
Representative Stephen Goldfinch, Jr. – Charleston & Georgetown Counties – (843) 357-9301
Representative Jerry N. Govan, Jr. – Orangeburg County – (803) 533-7976
Representative William G. “Bill” Herbkersman – Beaufort & Jasper Counties – (843) 757-7900
Representative Kenneth F. Hodges – Beaufort & Colleton Counties – (843) 525-9006
Representative Jenny Anderson Horne – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 873-1721
Representative Lonnie Hosey – Allendale, Barnwell & Orangeburg Counties – (803) 734-2829
Representative Joseph H. Jefferson, Jr. – Berkeley & Dorchester Counties – (843) 567-4386
Representative Patsy G. Knight – Colleton & Dorchester Counties – (803) 734-2960
Representative Harry B. “Chip” Limehouse, III – Charleston County – (843) 577-6242
Representative David J. Mack, III – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 225-4869
Representative Peter M. McCoy, Jr. – Charleston County – (843) 628-2855
Representative James H. Merrill – Berkeley & Charleston Counties – (843) 740-5855
Representative Christopher J. “Chris” Murphy – Dorchester County – (843) 832-1120
Representative Wm. Weston J. Newton – Beaufort & Jasper Counties – (843) 706-6111
Representative Russell L. Ott – Calhoun, Lexington & Orangeburg Counties – (803) 212-6945
Representative Samuel Rivers, Jr. – Berkeley & Charleston Counties – (843) 529-0390
Representative F. Michael “Mike” Sottile – Charleston County – (843) 884-3159
Representative Edward L. Southard – Berkeley County – (843) 761-4366
Representative Leonidas E. “Leon” Stavrinakis – Charleston County – (843) 724-1060
Representative Mary E. Tinkler – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 853-6055
Representative J. Seth Whipper – Charleston & Dorchester Counties – (843) 740-7777

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