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Confederate flag to be removed after Charleston massacre

By AP Reporter

Published 24/06/2015

A protester at a rally yesterday calling for removal of the flag
A protester at a rally yesterday calling for removal of the flag

South Carolina's governor said the Confederate flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds after the fatal shooting at a historic black church.

Republican Nikki Haley acknowledged that its use as a symbol of hatred by the man accused of killing nine black church members has made it too divisive to display in such a public space.

Her about-face comes just days after authorities charged Dylann Storm Roof (21) with murder.

The young white man appeared in photos waving Confederate flags and burning or desecrating US flags, and purportedly wrote of stirring up racial violence.

Survivors told police he hurled racial insults during last Wednesday's attack.

Ms Haley said: "The murderer now locked up in Charleston said he hoped his actions would start a race war.

"We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening," she said, flanked by Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites who joined her call.

"My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honour the nine blessed souls who are now in Heaven," she said.

The massacre inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has suddenly made removing the flag - long thought politically impossible in South Carolina - the mainstream position, even for conservative Republican politicians.

Within moments, her call was echoed by the chairman of the Republican National Committee and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Elsewhere, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn called for the Confederate emblem to be removed from the state flag, and in Tennessee, both Democrats and Republicans called for the removal of a bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from an alcove outside the Senate's chambers.

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