South Carolina bill to remove Confederate flag advances


(CNN) – The effort to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds is riding strong momentum

The governor is for it. Nearly all state senators are backing it. And petitioners are collecting signatures by the hundreds of thousands.

A final Senate vote is scheduled for Tuesday. If it passes with a two-thirds majority, it will move to the House.

A preliminary vote on the bill passed the Senate in a 37-3 vote Monday.

“The South Carolina Senate … 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,” Gov. Nikki Haley said after Monday’s vote.

“I applaud the Senate’s decisive action … and ask that the House act swiftly and follow the Senate’s lead.

“Momentum to take down the flag quickly grew after a deadly shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston last month.

After the self-confessed shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was arrested the next day in North Carolina, a Web page surfaced showing a racist manifesto and 60 photos of Roof, some of which showed him waving the Confederate flag.

Counting the votes

A two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the General Assembly would be necessary for the measure to reach Haley’s desk.

According to a survey of lawmakers by The Charleston Post and Courier, South Carolina’s legislature has enough votes to remove the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds.

Still, many top Republicans in the House haven’t said how they will vote. Lawmakers also can add amendments to the legislation with a three-fifths majority vote.

Any discrepancies with the Senate version of the bill would have to be worked out in committee.

‘Attack on our values’

Supporters of the Confederate flag aren’t shying away from the controversial symbol.

Poll: 57% see Confederate flag as Southern pride

The State newspaper in Columbia reported that pro-Confederate flag robocalls urged voters last week to call their representatives and to tell them to “not stand with leftist fanatics who want to destroy the South we love.”

“What’s next? This attack on our values is sick and un-American, and it has to stop right here and right now in South Carolina,” the call said.

Also, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, U.S. public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with 57% of Americans seeing it more as a symbol of Southern pride than of racism. In 2000, 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride.

Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.

Activist who took down flag says it’s ‘my calling as a freedom fighter’

Another point of view

Adding to the push to remove the flag, MoveOn members will present a petition to officials at the statehouse Tuesday. More than 570,000 signatures have been collected.

“The Confederate flag is not a symbol of southern pride but rather a symbol of rebellion and racism,” the online petition states.

“On the heels of the brutal killing of nine Black people in a South Carolina church by a racist terrorist, it’s time to put that symbol of rebellion and racism behind us and move toward healing and a better United States of America!”

Poll: Majority sees flag as Southern pride symbol, not racist

‘Can’t be the end’

South Carolina lawmakers raised the Confederate emblem over the statehouse in 1961.

For nearly 40 years, it flew under the U.S. flag and the state’s palmetto flag atop the Capitol dome until a compromise moved it to a flagpole next to a soldiers’ monument.

Evolution of the Confederate flag

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The first National Flag of the Confederate States of America was created in 1861 and had seven stars to represent the breakaway states South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

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The second National Flag of the Confederacy was issued bt the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863. This flag was designed to have a distinct difference from the Union's Stars and Stripes.

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The third National Flag of the Confederacy was the final flag of the Confederate government and was adopted on March 4, 1865. The flag was not used long before the Confederacy surrendered.

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The Confederate Battle flag known as the "Southern Cross" has 13 stars to represent the defeated Confederate of America.

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A decade after the end of the Civil War, a veteran of the Confederate State of America examines a Union water bottle in front of a Confederate flag in 1875. Here's a look at the evolution of that flag:

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Dixiecrats resurfaced the "Southern Cross" flag as a political symbol around the time President Harry Truman supported efforts to end lynchings and desegregate the military in 1948. During that same period, the Ku Klux Klan began using the flag more widely.

Opponents say the flag’s display on the grounds amounts to tacit state endorsement of white supremacy.

But efforts to remove it had gone nowhere until last month, when nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston were shot and killed during Bible study. The victims were all African-American, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

The massacre reignited debate over the flag’s meaning and spurred politicians around the South to reexamine the placement of Confederate flags on everything from government property to state-issued license plates.

“The flag is the beginning; it can’t be the end,” Haley told NBC’s “Today” show over the weekend.

Confederate battle flag: Separating myths from facts

Source: CNNPolitics.com

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