As South Carolina’s Indian-American governor Nikki Haley channelled the outrage over Charleston church massacre with a call to remove the Confederate flag, the campaign against the slavery-era secessionist banner intensified.
By Arun Kumar
Heeding Haley’s call, lawmakers made debating whether to remove the flag from the State House grounds an urgent matter as protestors rallied at the South Carolina capitol in Columbia. The House voted 103-10 to debate the flag this summer. The 45-member state Senate voted by voice to join the debate that could begin as early as next Tuesday.
A two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the Legislature will be necessary in order for the measure reach Haley’s desk and subsequently remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.
South Carolina was the first state to break away from the American Union on December 20, 1860, six weeks after the election of anti-slavery Republican Abraham Lincoln as president.
The first shots of the American Civil War too were fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861 after ten other states followed in secession to form the Confederate States of America.
The controversial “Stars and Bars” flag was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Public pressure to remove the red flag with a blue diagonal cross with 13 white stars representing the secessionist states has been growing after photos of the alleged white shooter Dylan Roof, 21, with a gun waving the flag emerged.
The governors of Virginia and North Carolina quickly declared that they would remove the flag from state license plates.
One after another, several of the country’s top retailers — from Walmart to eBay to Amazon and Sears– saying they had no intention of offending customers, announced that they would stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.
Meanwhile, several companies including Nascar, Boeing, BMW and Michelin also rallied around Haley, a Republican.
The debate in South Carolina over the Confederate flag also seems to be spilling over to neighbouring southern states, according to CNN.
in Kentucky, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin have both called for the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis that stands in the state capitol building.
In Mississippi, the state’s Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn has called the state flag, which includes the Confederate flag in the left top corner, “a point of offense that needs to be removed.”
Activists are also calling for a closer look at the state flags of seven other Southern states, which also include symbols evoking those states’ Civil War battle flags. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.