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Monday, June 22, 2015
Nikki Haley says Confederate flag has 'no place' on statehouse ground
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called Monday for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds but defended the right of private citizens to fly it.
“The time has come,” Haley said. “That flag, while an integral part of the past, does not represent the future of our great state.”
The Republican governor, who avoided calls to remove the flag in the first few days following Wednesday’s shooting death of nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said taking the flag down would unite the state.
“We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. “The fact that people are choosing to use it a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capital grounds. It is after all a capitol that belongs to all of us.”
The push to remove the Confederate flag – which has flown in front of the state capitol for 15 years after being removed from atop the statehouse dome -- comes after last week’s shooting deaths of nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed.
President Obama and Vice President Biden will both travel to Charleston at the end of the week to attend the funeral services for Pinckney. Obama will deliver the eulogy, a White House spokesman confirmed to Fox News.
Late Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that Haley was "right to call for removal of a symbol of hate in SC."
Momentum has grown since last Wednesday’s murders to take down the flag. The accused killer, Dylann Roof, was photographed holding the the flag and with other symbols of white supremacy.
Over the weekend, nearly 2,000 protesters braved triple-digit heat to call for the flag’s removal in the state capital of Columbia .
The Sons of Confederate Veterans said it plans to vigorously fight any effort to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina's Statehouse.
The group said it was horrified at last week's shooting but there is "absolutely no link" between the massacre and the flag.
Leland Summers, South Carolina commander of the group, says the group is about heritage and history, not hate. He offered condolences to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and said now is not the time to make political points.
Summers said the Sons of Confederate Veterans have 30,000 members nationwide that will fight any attempt to move the flag.
Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.