South Carolina House passes bill to remove Confederate flag
The South Carolina House of Representatives has approved taking down the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds, which is considered as a symbol of slavery and racism.
The state legislature passed legislation 94-20 early Thursday after more than 13 hours of emotional and contentious debate.
The bill will go to Republican Governor Nikki Haley for approval.
The measure calls for the banner to come down within 24 hours of the governor’s signature.
“Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity. I’m grateful for their service and their compassion. It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” the governor said.
“South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives,” said 64-year-old Democrat Rep. Joe Neal. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see this.”
The debate to take down the flag began after 21-year-old Dylann Roof shot dead nine black worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in the city of Charleston on June 17.
The white shooter had photographs posing with a Confederate flag on a website bearing a racist manifesto.
“This has brought forth a new understanding and new ways of seeing ways to peace and justice. … The right thing to do is the gentle laying down of the past,” said Representative Wendell Gilliard, a black Democrat from Charleston.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Democrats were united behind the Senate bill. He said they did not want any new flag going up because it “will be the new vestige of racism.”
The defenders, however, deny its association with slavery, saying it represents the history and heritage of the state.