Lawmakers sound off on removing Confederate flag

Lawmakers sound off on removing Confederate flag

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina lawmakers continued their support Monday to take down the Confederate flag at the State Capitol.

The flag used to fly on the dome of the building, inside the lobby, house chamber and senate chamber, and it now flies on the statehouse grounds at a confederate memorial.

"I respect the heritage but I also respect the fact that on the statehouse, on the dome of the statehouse, we only need but two flags, the South Carolina flag and the United States flag," Former state Senator Robert Ford said.

In 1993, Ford authored the bill to get the Confederate flag taken off the capitol building. It took until 2000 to reach an agreement with former Senator and current College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell.

"I told him we got to do something about the flag, and he understood," Ford said.

That same year Charleston Mayor Joe Riley led a march from Charleston to Columbia to take down the flag, wearing a bulletproof vest because of death threats.

"The people are for moving the flag down," Riley said in 2000. "It's the legislature."

Monday the mayor repeated his message, but this time to remove it from the Confederate monument.

"It's a historical flag, a piece of history and it belongs in a history museum," Riley said.

Ford said he didn't think the flag being on the monument was an issue in 2000.

"The Confederate soldier had been there since 1901," Ford said. "That's the tall statue with the solider aiming the gun at Columbia. I figured if nobody minds the soldier aiming the gun at Columbia, then why would they care about his flag."

Now, state leaders are joining the call to remove it.

"We are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds," Governor Nikki Haley.

Ford says politicians should wait.

"For them to mix this stuff up with these people in mourning, with Charleston in mourning, and the rest of the country coming together around these people, it wasn't the right time," Ford said.

Governor Haley said it's needed now.

"My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as state in harmony"

The flag was first added to the South Carolina Capitol in 1962 during the peak of the civil rights movement to commemorate the beginning of the Civil War.

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