Two prominent South Carolina Republicans were expected on Monday to call for the Confederate flag to be taken down from the state grounds, CNN reported. Gov. Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham were due to announce the flag's removal at a news conference Monday afternoon, when Graham will request the flag be moved to a museum.
Graham, who's also vying for the 2016 GOP nomination, has been at the center of the Confederate flag debate since last week's massacre at a Charleston church. The flag was "part of who we are," he previously said, adding that racism comes from a person's heart. "The flag represents, to some people, a civil war and that was the symbol of one side. To others, it’s a racist symbol and it’s been used by people in a racist way."
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) June 22, 2015
The Confederate flag has flown near the capitol since 1962. It's been at its current location at the Confederate Soldier Monument since 2000, when the state approved a bill moving it from the capitol dome. It must fly at 30 feet, and changing its position -- or removing it completely --requires a two-thirds vote from both houses in the General Assembly, according to Politifact.
That's why it stayed at the top of the mast, even though the United States and South Carolina flags were lowered to half-staff following the shooting. The state was mourning the Wednesday deaths of nine black churchgoers by white 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof. Soon after the deadly episode, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley joined the chorus of protesters calling for the flag's removal.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) June 22, 2015
"It sends, at best, mixed messages and, at worst, for hateful people like Roof, it’s an affirmation because they have appropriated something and used it as a symbol of hatred," Riley told CNN. "So I think that it needs to go into a museum and I think it will."
The Post and Courier reported that lawmakers were considering extending their budget session to allow for discussion about the flag. Legislators were also weighing an option that includes adding a proviso about the flag to the budget itself.