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South Carolinians React To Governor Haley's Call To Move Confederate Flag

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scscv.com

The call to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol grounds has gained a powerful supporter.  Governor Nikki Haley said it’s time to take down a symbol that divides the state. 

Haley said the shooting of nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston last week made people look at the Confederate flag differently. Flanked by politicians from both parties, she called on state lawmakers to remove it. 

"We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer," she said. "The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds.  It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us." 

Removing the flag would require a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers.  Fifteen years ago, South Carolina lawmakers struck a compromise to move the flag from the statehouse to a monument beside it for Confederate soldiers.

Calls to remove the flag ramped up after it came to light that alleged gunman Dylann Roof embraced the flag as a symbol of white supremacy. Local and national leaders have weighed in and people across the state have rallied to support its removal.

But many people like Greenville resident Al Phillips think it should stay where it is.  He doesn’t see the flag as a symbol of hate but as something that represents a part of South Carolina’s history. 

"There was a reason for a compromise, so you can't go back and change everything every time somebody doesn't like this or doesn't like that," he says. "You can't try to connect things to one person or anything, like what just happened."

But Polly Hall from Boiling Springs says she thinks taking the flag down would be a positive step for racial relations in South Carolina.

"I think that everybody should vote to take it down," she says. "If it's causing all kind of conflicts and confusion, I think that they should take it down."

Spartanburg resident Forrest Taylor agrees. He says just think about all that African-Americans have been through in the South. 

"And if they can let that much go, then surely we can let that little flag go," he says.

State lawmakers could take up the issue in Columbia as soon as Tuesday. A rally in support of removing the flag is scheduled for 11:00 at the capitol.