The Confederate flag was taken down from a war memorial on the Alabama Capitol grounds Wednesday morning on the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, according to The Birmingham News. Almost a week after a racially motivated shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, workers removed four Confederate flags from the memorial on state grounds amid growing national controversy over the flag's presence throughout the South and its continued legacy of violence and hatred.
Without prior announcement or fanfare, two workers came out of Alabama Capitol building at 8:20 a.m. and began to take down the Confederate battle flag, which still flies at the Capitol in South Carolina, declining to answer any questions, reports the Birmingham News. Bentley left the Capitol building shortly after and confirmed that he ordered the flag taken down.
"Yes, partially this is about that," Bentley told the Birmingham News, when asked whether the flag's removal occurred because of the controversy in South Carolina. "This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down."
Bentley said that he checked whether there were any state laws preventing him from removing the flag, reports the Birmingham News. In South Carolina, despite support from Gov. Nikki Haley to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds, specific laws require the South Carolina state legislature to vote before it can be taken down.
Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, Sears and eBay announced they would stop selling the Confederate flag and related merchandise Monday and Tuesday. The Confederate flag was held by Dylann Roof as a symbol of white supremacy when he shot and killed nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last Thursday.