CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor Joe Riley issued a statement Thursday afternoon after Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds:
"Today, in South Carolina, division has been replaced with unity. Our state capitol building -- a building that belongs to all South Carolinians -- will house flags that belong to all South Carolinians as does the flag of our state and the flag of our country.
"For more than half a century, the confederate battle flag has been atop our state capitol or in front. This reasonably insulted many of our citizens and kept alive wounds of prejudice and hate. For many years, efforts have been made to have this flag retired to a museum.
"Today, at long last, this has been done. Our state's response to a horrific act of racial hatred has been a clear and decisive act of graceful unity, respect and healing for all of our citizens.
"Governor Haley and members of our General Assembly deserve the highest praise from our citizens. They will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives deserved pride for this historic and healing action.
"We have an opportunity to work together and build new bonds of acceptance, tolerance and inclusiveness for our children and grandchildren."
Riley joined Haley in calling for the removal of the Confederate flag following the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in which nine members were gunned down after a Bible study on June 17. The suspect in that shooting was shown posing with the Confederate flag and burning the American flag in photos discovered after his arrest.
The flag is scheduled to be removed from the pole behind the Confederate memorial at 10 a.m. Friday.