The White House says President Barack Obama believes the Confederate flag should no longer be flown in Charleston, South Carolina, or elsewhere, but doesn’t have authority over that decision.
Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama has maintained for years that the Confederate flag “should be taken down and placed in a museum where it belongs,” but recognizes it’s an issue for individual states.
Some Charleston-area political and religious leaders are calling on state lawmakers to remove the flag from South Carolina’s capital grounds after a white man killed nine black people during a Bible study last week.
Earnest says it’s very clear what Obama thinks would be the appropriate action.
A group of Charleston-area political and religious leaders are calling on state lawmakers to vote this week to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capital grounds.
Officials including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and Democratic state Sen. Marlon Kimpson in North Charleston on Monday called on legislators to stay in session and vote as early as Tuesday to take down the flag from its place in front of the statehouse in Columbia.
The Rev. Nelson B Rivers III of the National Action Network said the flag should be removed before the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney lies in state at the Statehouse on Wednesday. Pinckney and eight other church members were shot to death last week as they attended Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
Kimpson says he’s informed state Senate leaders that there is a “growing chorus” of members interested in taking up a debate while lawmakers are in session to discuss the budget.
South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas says moving the state forward from last week’s shooting deaths at a historic black church in Charleston requires swiftly resolving the Confederate flag issue.
Lucas did not specify what he believes that resolution should be or how legislators could take it up.
The Legislature’s regular session ended June 4. Legislators are expected to return later this week in a short, limited session to pass a budget compromise. Both chambers would have to give two-thirds approval just to take up anything new.
“The intense and difficult debate that took place in 2000 over the Confederate soldier flag was ultimately resolved by compromise. Wednesday’s unspeakable tragedy has reignited a discussion on this sensitive issue,” Lucas said in a statement.
South Carolina was the last state to fly the Confederate battle flag from its Statehouse dome until the 2000 compromise put a square version of the flag — the South Carolina Infantry Battle Flag — on a 30-foot flagpole at the Confederate Soldier Monument directly in front of the Statehouse, along one of Columbia’s busiest streets.
Dylann Roof, who is white, has been charged in the deaths of the nine people in Charleston.
Gov. Nikki Haley has scheduled a news conference for later Monday. Her office has given no indication of what she will say.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley says he has been overwhelmed but not surprised at the outpouring of donations for a fund he helped set up for the families of the victims of the Charleston shooting.
Riley said donations poured in to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund and the Reverend Pinckney fund. City officials are still trying to figure out how much money the funds had Monday morning.
“I’ve got $110,000 in checks in my pocket. It’s wonderful,” Riley said.
The fund was set up after authorities say a white gunman opened fire on a black church in a racially motivated attack, killing nine people, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
Riley says even in the darkest hours, as details started to come out about the shooting, he knew Charleston would show love instead of hate.
People can donate on the city’s website: http://www.charleston-sc.gov
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