South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined calls to take down the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds at a press conference Monday, reports Politico. The second governor of the state to call for its removal, Haley’s statement was her first decisive public statement on the flag issue since last week’s tragic Charleston church shooting that left nine black people dead at the hands of an alleged white supremacist.
Wednesday’s shooting not only brought attention to the white supremacy still prevalent in South Carolina, but also reopened the debate over the presence of the flag in front of the South Carolina capitol, a historically sensitive debate for the Republican Party.
In fact, Hayley’s statement follows the Republican’s struggle to come up with a unified response to the flag that serves as a controversial symbol commonly associated with racism especially in the South.
This announcement is a complete turnaround for Haley as she had previously supported the flag’s placement at the war memorial in front of the Capitol and held this stance since becoming the first Indian American female governor in 2011. In fact, she said the Confederate flag posed no problems for South Carolina during her reelection campaign last year.
Hayley’s call for the flag’s removal was met with mixed responses from her fellow Republicans. While some endorsed her call, others were more reluctant to share their views and said the decision to keep or remove the flags should be left to the states.
Even most republican presidential candidates, including Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, refused to express their personal opinions. On the other hand, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as well as other Republican senators and former governors, shared their views on social media that the flag should ultimately come down.
Hayley’s call is only the beginning of a national movement to take down these Confederate flags, which are often painful reminders of the deep-rooted racism in American society.
You can read about calls to remove the confederate flag from other states in Politico.
You can listen to the reaction of a Black American activist active in the flag controversy in the interview below from WCIV.