BREAKING NEWS: In a third and final vote, South Carolina’s senate have voted to remove the Confederate battle Flag from statehouse grounds. With a final tally of 36-3, the issue will now move into the House. Debates there could begin as soon as Wednesday.
The issue of removing the flag, long viewed by many white southerners (and a few Blacks from the south) as a symbol of “heritage,” was renewed after 9 Black South Carolinians, including state senator and pastor Clementa Pickney, were killed during Bible study at a historic African American church by a young white supremacist, who can be seen in photos posing with the flag and a number of Confederate mementos, that represent white supremacy.
Aside from mass outrage, the shooting prompted several events, including South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley calling on her colleagues to consider removing the flag, a digital petition and movement to #TakeItDown sponsored by MoveOn.org, and activist Bree Newsome of the Ferguson Action personally climbing the public monument to remove the flag. She, and ally James Tyson, were arrested and later released on bail by a judge.
NPR reports that the House, which seats 124 members, will give strong opposition to the new bill advanced to remove the flag. The legislation must survive three readings before it can be approved and adopted.
Given this legislative process, the matter of taking down the flag that, for so many decades, inspired race-based hate crimes, may not see a resolution until Friday.
According to the Washington Post, Rev. Pickney’s wife, Jennifer Pickney, was present in the Senate Chamber during Tuesday’s vote, where Sen. Joel Lourie (D-SC), reportedly said:
“The alleged killer of the Charleston nine used that flag as a symbol of hatred and bigotry and racism. Let today be the beginning of a story about a new South Carolina.”
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