The South Carolina House will not consider removing or changing public monuments celebrating the Confederacy, said Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas in a statement released on Thursday. Lucas' declaration came after the General Assembly voted last week to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.
Activists have been calling for South Carolina and other Southern states to remove Confederate flags and related imagery after the racially-motivated June 17 shooting in a historically-black church in the state's city of Charleston that killed nine people. The Confederate flag was taken down from the South Carolina Capitol during an official ceremony last Friday.
"The South Carolina House of Representatives will not engage in or debates the specifics of public monuments, memorials, state buildings, road names or any other historical markers," said Lucas, according to the State. Lucas voted last week in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) June 18, 2015
In 2000, South Carolina lawmakers passed "The Heritage Act," which protects all monuments, street names and buildings named for historical figures or events. The act, which was initially designed to protect the Confederate flag from being removed from Capitol grounds, required any changes to be approved by a two-thirds majority in both the state House and state Senate.
The statue of "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman on Statehouse grounds has been a center of statewide debate, with many calling for its removal from the Capitol. Tillman, a white supremacist and former South Carolina governor and U.S. senator, spoke in support of lynch mobs and led a violent militia group -- the Red Shirts -- that assaulted and killed African-Americans to deny them voting rights in the 1876 election.
"We reached a swift resolution last week and in doing so put an end to the discussion. Debate over this issue will not be entertained throughout the remainder of my term as speaker," said Lucas, according to the Associated Press.