South Carolinians React To Removal Of Confederate Flag From Capitol Grounds
Friday morning, the Confederate battle flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds and moved to a museum down the street. The flag has been the subject of intense debate over the last few weeks, following the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston. In Columbia Thursday, people stopped by to celebrate and to lament the flag’s last full day outside of the capitol.
Despite the heat, people milled around taking in the scene. Cars occasionally blew their horns as they passed and a man sat in the shade singing patriotic songs.
Most people were excited but not all.
"Very sad day for me and very sad day for history," said Beth Phillips as she tilted her head up to look at the flag and took photos on her phone.
"Well, they’re taking down the flag, and I wanted to be here on the last day so I could share it with my grandchildren for them, for the future," Phillips said.
Even after the Charleston shootings, after the arguments and debates over what this flag stands for, Phillips and others see this as an important symbol.
"I’m sorry for what happened in Charleston, but it doesn’t mean that we hate anyone; it’s just part of our heritage," Phillips added.
Laura Suber, meanwhile, brought her three grandchildren to see the flag.
"Well today is a historical moment, and I want them to learn and see history as it is," said Suber.
Shortly after 4:00 pm Thursday, Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law that removes the flag from the statehouse grounds.
"We will see the Confederate flag come down. We are a state that believes in tradition, that believes in history, that believes in respect. So, we will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure that it is put in its rightful place," stated Haley.
The people gathered outside of the statehouse celebrated.
The flag goes to a nearby museum Friday. The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum will not say what they plan to do with the flag or even whether it’s going to be on display. But if curators do decide to put it out, it would be alongside artifacts from American history, beginning with the Revolution to present day. Those artifacts include letters, guns, ammunition, and a number of Confederate battle flags.
Museum curator Joe Long pointed out a red wall where some of them hang in glass frames.
"These are all flags that we’ve put out for the 150th anniversary of the end of the war, and so we have three regimental flags. They’ve been damaged in battle," explained Long.
Late Thursday, police began partitioning areas on the capitol grounds where crowds can stand and watch as the Confederate flag is taken down, folded up, and sent down the street to take its place with other Civil War-era banners.