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Calls For Removal Of Confederate Flag Outside SC Statehouse Grow In Wake Of Race-Fueled Charleston Church Shooting

Source: Win McNamee / Getty

On Monday the South Carolina Senate voted 37-3 to pull the Confederate flag off the statehouse grounds.  A second vote will be necessary on Tuesday to send the proposal to the House.

If the House passes the bill, the flag could be removed as soon as Gov. Nikki Haley signs the papers. After the flag is lowered for the last time it would then be shipped off to the state’s Confederate Relic Room.

Three amendments to the bill were rejected by the Senate. The first amendment would have put a different Confederate flag in front of the capitol.

The second amendment would fly the flag only on Confederate Memorial Day, and the final amendment suggested leaving the flag’s fate up to a popular vote.

Sen Lee Bright had this to say on the issue:

“I’m more against taking it down in this environment than any other time just because I believe we’re placing the blame of what one deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern heritage high.”

During the debate several white senators said they now understand the perspective of their black colleagues and why they felt the flag no longer represented the courage of Southern soldiers but instead the racism that led the South to separate from the United States.

Also while the debate was in progress the desk of their slain colleague, Clementa Pinckney, was still draped in black cloth. Pinckney and eight other black people were killed June 17 during Bible study at a historic African-American church in Charleston.

Other senators said the forgiveness shown by the families of the victims is what changed their minds.  Sen. Darrell Jackson, a black Democrat said he regretted not going further to get rid of the flag completely 15 years ago, since he helped write the compromise that took the Confederate flag off the Statehouse dome in 2000 and put it in its current location on a pole on the Capitol’s front lawn.

As for the road ahead, house minority leader Todd Rutherford claims that no Democrat would vote for a bill that leaves the flagpole up. However, there are indications that the proposal will have a tougher journey in the House.

The bill is expected to be sent directly to the House floor Wednesday with several amendments offered.  If any of the amendments pass, a conference committee would probably be needed to settle differences.

 

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