The South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives have voted in favor of removing the Confederate flag from its State Capitol grounds.
In a 37-3 vote, the Senate voted to take the flag down on Monday, and after a 13-hour debate yesterday in the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted to remove the flag, as well. According to the L.A. Times, the flag is being taken down 54 years after it was first raised over the Capitol to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War.
“The South Carolina Senate today rose to this historic occasion, with a large majority of members from both parties coming together in the spirit of unity and healing that is binding our state back together and moving us forward in the right direction,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. “I applaud the Senate’s decisive action, look forward to the Senate giving the bill third reading in the morning, and ask that the House act swiftly and follow the Senate’s lead.”
The push to remove the Confederate flag has gained steam recently since 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered Emanuel AME Church three weeks ago and fatally shot nine Black church members during bible study, including Rev. and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Photos from Roof’s social media page show the killer posing with the flag and boasting about White supremacy. Two weeks ago, civil rights activist Bree Newsome climbed the pole in front of the SC State Capitol and removed the flag herself.
“For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury [not taking down the flag] and I will not be a part of it!” Rep. Jenny Horne (R) said during the House debate.
People who oppose the flag’s removal argue that it represents Southern culture.
“I’m more against taking it down in this environment than any other time just because I believe we’re placing the blame of what one deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern heritage high,” said State Senator Lee Bright to CBS News.
Governor Haley, who has voiced her support for the removal of the flag, will sign the legislation today at 4 p.m. ET. According to the bill, the flag must be taken down within 24 hours of Haley signing the legislation.