Obama addresses Confederate flag controversy
Throughout the ceremony, the “Mother Emanuel” choir, hundreds strong, led roughly 6,000 people through rousing gospel standards between speakers. A banner alongside Pinckney’s closed coffin declared that the killer picked the “Wrong Church! Wrong People! Wrong Day!”
Another 5,000 people were turned away, and had to watch on television, as the funeral was broadcast live across South Carolina.
Justice Department officials broadly agree the shootings meet the legal requirements for a hate crime, meaning federal charges are likely, a federal law enforcement source told The Associated Press on Thursday, speaking anonymously because the investigation is ongoing.
Dylann Storm Roof, now charged with nine murders, embraced Confederate symbols before the attack, posing with the rebel battle flag and burning the U. S. flag in photos. Their appearance online prompted this week’s stunning political reversals, despite the outsized role such symbols have played in Southern identity.
Obama praised Gov. Nikki Haley for moving first by asking lawmakers Monday to bring down the flag outside South Carolina’s Statehouse. Other politicians then came out saying historic but divisive symbols no longer deserve places of honor.
“It’s true a flag did not cause these murders,” Obama said. “But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge — including, Gov. Haley whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise — as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just an-
‘ The cause for which they fought - the cause of slavery -
“Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong. The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people, was wrong.”
“It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history, a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds,” he said. “It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better.”