Across The South, A Push To Banish Confederate Flags From State Buildings
The shooting last week at a black church in South Carolina has prompted calls in the South for the removal of the Confederate Flag and other symbols of the Confederacy.
Here is a roundup of efforts in different states — and the response from businesses:
The House voted 103-10 today to allow debate on removing the Confederate flag from outside the Statehouse. Lawmakers are expected to take up the debate in a couple of weeks when they return to pass the budget.
The state's Republican Gov. Nikki Haley called Monday for the flag to be moved from the Capitol grounds.
"One-fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come," she said.
Lawmakers from both parties have supported that call, as have many people in the state, some of whom gathered outside the Statehouse today chanting, "Take it down. Take it down." But as the Post and Courier reports, the flag has supporters, too.
"This flag is heritage. If you take it down you won't get rid of racism. The flag didn't pull the trigger. The flag didn't kill anybody. That was an individual that did that," said Mark Garman, 56, of Eastover, S.C.
The debate has spread to Mississippi where House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, called the Confederate flag offensive and said Monday it should be removed from the state's flag. But Tate Reeves, the state's Republican lieutenant governor, said today that decisions should be left to voters.
The state's flag, which has the Confederate emblem in its top right corner, was adopted in 1894. In 2001, voters in the state overwhelmingly supported its continued use.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, moved today to remove the Confederate flag from license plates issued by the state. He called the display of the flag on the state-issued tags "unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people."
In a statement, McAuliffe cited last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case from Texas that states could prevent the flag from being placed on their license plates. That decision contradicts past federal court decisions in Virginia, which has a vanity plate that pays tribute to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. That group's logo includes the flag, which appears on the vanity plates.
Matt Bevin , the state's Republican nominee for governor, is calling for the removal of a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, from the Capitol rotunda.
"It is important never to forget our history, but parts of our history are more appropriately displayed in museums, not on government property," he said in a statement.
His Democratic rival, Jack Conway, said Monday he didn't have a position yet.
"I'd have to chew on that one a little bit," he said. "It's an important part of our history."
Lawmakers from both parties called for the removal of a bust of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, to be removed from the Statehouse where it sits on the top floor, near the Senate chambers.
Several companies, including Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Sears say they will halt sales of the flag and related merchandise amid the controversy. Pennsylvania-based Valley Forge Flag said it would stop making and selling the Confederate flag, Reuters reports.
"We hope that this decision will show our support for those affected by the recent events in Charleston and, in some small way, help to foster racial unity and tolerance in our country," Valley Forge Flag said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
But some flag manufacturers say they have no plans to stop making them.
"I don't sell the Confederate flag for any specific group, I just sell the flag," Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas' FlagandBanner.com, told The Associated Press. "This is America. Everybody has a right to be represented whether you are a history buff or a nut."
She said demand for the flag was higher than usual – and she expects to sell about 50 of the flags in the next week, the AP reports, half the number typically sold by the company in a year.
Pete Van de Putte, who runs Dixie Flag Manufacturing in San Antonio, is also seeing increased sales.
"Any time there is a controversy about any flag, we sell more flags," he told the AP. "It's not like selling tires or washing machines.
"When people come in here, they're buying their national pride, their ethnic origin ... so people are naturally passionate about the product."
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