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Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC

Part 4 of 11: Late 2015-JUN:
Protest at Capitol. Legislative
fforts to remove the Confederate
flag from the South Carolina
Capitol grounds. Reactions
elsewhere in North America.
President Obama delivers an eulogy.

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This topic is continued from Part 3

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2015-JUN-23: Legislators call for flag removal from the Capitol grounds:

State Senator Paul Thurmond (R), the son of the ardent segregationists Strom Thurmond (R), was the first South Carolina Senator to call for the flag's removal. He said that he loves his ancestors but is not proud of South Carolina's heritage of slavery. He said that he wanted to send a message to any racist-motivated individual who might commit a hate crime while displaying the flag. He said:

"I can respond with love, unity and kindness, and maybe show others that the motivations for a future attack of hate will not be tolerated, will not result in a race war, will not divide us, but rather strengthen our resolve to come together." 1

Sen. Larry Martin, (R) said:

"I don’t believe the generation right behind me really appreciates just how divisive an experience this state had back in the Jim Crow era and the things that were done to black people. I can understand the animus that a lot of minorities my age and older hold toward any symbol of the old South. [But it’s] time to move on. We have a history, and I’m not exactly proud of our history in every respect ... [but] we’re not going to rip up all the symbols of our past. It ought to remind us to learn more about them." 2

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2013-JUN-23: Hundreds protest the Confederate flag:

Hundreds of people gathered to demand that the flag be removed from the Capitol grounds. They chanted "Bring it down' bring it down."

Tom Clements was one of the demonstrators. He said that he loved the Confederate flag as a child but now sees it as a symbol of oppression. He said:

"The racists took over the memories of the Confederacy,"

One of the few flag supporters among the crowd, Mark Garman, 56, said:

"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." 1

Senator Tom Davis (R) also supports removal of the flag. He addressed the crowd, saying:

"There are some very good and decent people in up there in the General Assembly without a racist bone in their body who revere that flag. And I think it is important ... that we let them have their say."

State GOP Chairman Matt Moore said:

"With enough political will anything can be done. There is a silent majority of South Carolinians who strongly believe we can have a better future without the flag being on Statehouse grounds." 1

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2015-JUN-23: South Carolina's House and Senate both vote to hold a debate about the removal of the Confederate flag:

Jay Lucas, the Speaker of the South Carolina House referred to the church massacre as a:

"... terrorizing act of violence shook the very core of every South Carolinian.

A vote was taken to modify the state legislature's special session agenda to allow debate on whether to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds. It passed the House by a surprising vote of 103 to 10. The Senate later passed the same measure with a voice vote.

The Charleston news paper, the Post and Courier has been attempting to assess where each legislator stands on the flag matter. They have a continually updating graphic on their web site. 3 As of 5 PM EDT on JUN-24:

  • 69 House members are planning to vote in favor of flag removal, 9 plan to vote to retain the flag, 6 refused to answer, 10 are undecided and 29 have not yet responded. All of the Democrats plan to vote for removal. All of the Representatives who have not responded yet are Republicans,

  • 33 Senate members are planning to vote in favor of flag removal, 2 plan to vote to retain the flag, 4 refused to answer, 2 are undecided and 5 have not yet responded. All of the Democrats plan to vote for removal. All of the Senators who have not responded yet are Republicans,

These are remarkable figures! 3

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Late 2015-JUN: Reactions to the South Carolina flag debate:

  • Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton (D) had criticized the flying of the flag in South Carolina's Capitol building during 2007. She repeated her statement while speaking at an African-American church near Ferguson, MO. She said:

    "It shouldn’t fly there. It shouldn’t fly anywhere."

  • In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley (R) ordered the Confederate flag to be removed from the state Capitol grounds on JUN-24. It was flying on top of a Confederate monument. He was asked whether his action was related to the events in South Carolina. He replied:

    "Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down." 4

  • In Mississippi, House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) called for the Confederate emblem to be removed from their state flag. It is the only state flag that still includes the symbol. He said:

    "We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us. As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed." 5

  • In Tennessee, some legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, have called for the removal of a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Senate. He was a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader.

  • virginia license plateIn Virginia, Governor Terry McAulffe (D) announced plans to remove the Confederate flag from a custom version of state license plates. They are sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He said:

    "Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people. Even its display on state-issued license tags is, in my view, unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people."

He said that the state will continue to offer the custom plates, but without the flag insignia. The 1,600 plates that are already on the road will be replaced. In response, Frank Earnest, a past commander of the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said:

"I suppose just like in 1861, when armed representatives from the government come to take them away from me by force, I only have two choices: Take up arms like my ancestors did or comply. ... Right now, I’m going to comply."

Virginia State Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (R) said:

    "If taking the flag off the license plates would solve the problem, I’d be all for it, but I think we need to look deeper. This divide in the nation -- that needs healing, instead of shallow political moves that politicians take. And then they walk away and say, ‘Problem solved.’ Unless we’re committed at really taking a hard look at why the horrific thing happened in South Carolina, we’re not willing do to the heavy lifting." 6

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2015-JUN-26: President Obama (D) delivers an eulogy on the life of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney:

The following video was posted on You Tube by the White House. It took place at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. It is 38 minutes long and has English subtitles. As of JUN-28, the video had accumulated 1.247 likes and 54 dislikes.


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This topic continues in Part 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "SC lawmakers agree to debate removing Confederate flag," Inside Halton, 2015-JUN-23, at:
  2. Anna Bruzgulis, "Confederate flag wasn't flown at South Carolina statehouse until 1961, pundit claims," PinditFact, 2015-JUN-22, at:
  3. Live: We're asking every member of the SC legislature about the Confederate flag," Post and Courier, at:
  4. Kay Steiger, "Alabama Quietly Removes Confederate Flag From State Capitol," Think Progress, 2015-JUN-24, at:
  5. Amy Chozick, "Hillary Clinton Says Confederate Flag ‘Shouldn’t Fly Anywhere’," New York Times, 2015-JUN-23, at:
  6. , "Virginia’s McAuliffe plans to phase out Confederate flag license plate," Washington Post, 2015-JUN-23, at:
  7. "The President Honors the Life of Reverend Clementa Pinckney," You Tube, 2015-JUN-26, at:

Site navigation: Home > Religious violence > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs... > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-JUN-23
Last updated 2015-JUN-24
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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