In the wake of the deadly shooting at a South Carolina church on Wednesday, many have criticized the state’s continued flying of the Confederate flag -- often regarded as a symbol of the country’s history of slavery -- in public places, including at the state capitol building in Columbia. The flag, which often appears on hats, T-shirts and bumper stickers in the South, has long sparked controversy for its questionable roots.
Social media users wondered whether the shooting, which occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a historic African-American church, would prompt the flag’s removal. “Has anyone approached Haley to remove the confederate flag yet?” one Twitter user asked, referring to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has previously defended the flag flying above the capitol.
The flag has often been flown in the name of “Southern pride,” but many have condemned it as a stark reminder of the state’s history of discrimination against African-Americans. Haley has addressed the confederate flag debate before, saying its presence on the statehouse’s grounds was not a problem.
“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said during a gubernatorial debate in October 2014. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Nine people were killed Wednesday after a suspect opened fire at the church in Charleston during a prayer service. The gunman, who was white, hasn’t been identified and is still at large. The city’s police chief described the violent act as a hate crime.