The Con­fed­er­ate Flag came down from the S. Carolina state­house on Fri­day.

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

COLUMBIA, S. C. (AP) — For the first time since the civil rights move­ment, the Con­fed­er­ate flag was re­moved en­tirely from the South Carolina State­house, in a swift cer­e­mony Fri­day, July 10, be­fore thou­sands of peo­ple who cheered as the Civil War-era ban­ner was low­ered from a 30-foot flag­pole.

Many peo­ple be­lieved the flag would fly in­def­i­nitely in this state, which was the first to leave Union, but the killing of nine black church mem­bers dur­ing a Bi­ble study in Charleston last month changed that sen­ti­ment and reignited calls to bring down Con­fed­er­ate flags and sym­bols across the na­tion.

Dy­lann Roof, a white man who was pho­tographed with the Con­fed­er­ate flag, is charged in the shoot­ing deaths, and author­i­ties have called the killings a hate crime.

The crowd, es­ti­mated at up to 10,000 peo­ple, chanted “USA, USA” and “hey, hey, hey, good­bye” as an honor guard of South Carolina troop­ers low­ered the flag dur­ing a 6-minute cer- emony. Gov. Nikki Ha­ley stood on the State­house steps along with fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tims and other dig­ni­taries. While she didn’t speak, she nod­ded and smiled in the di­rec­tion of the crowd af­ter some­one shouted: “Thank you gover­nor.”

Ha­ley sup­ported the flag be­fore the shoot­ing, but the Repub­li­can had a change of heart in the days af­ter the killings and led the push to get leg­is­la­tors to pass a bill be­fore the end of the sum­mer. She signed the leg­is­la­tion Thurs­day.

As she looked on, two white troop­ers rolled up the flag neatly and tied it with a white rib­bon. They handed it to a black trooper who brought it to the State­house steps.

High­way Pa­trol Cpl. Ru­pert Pope down­played the sig­nif­i­cance of their race in the cer­e­mony.

“We’re all gray,” he said, with the other of­fi­cers nod­ding in agree­ment.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tweeted min­utes af­ter the flag was down, say­ing it was “a sign of good will and heal­ing and a mean­ing­ful step to­wards a bet­ter fu­ture.” Obama de­liv­ered a eu­logy at the fu­neral for state Sen. Cle­menta Pinck­ney, who was also pas­tor of the church where the killings took place.

The honor guard was the same group of men who car­ried Pinck­ney’s cof­fin into the State­house for a view­ing last month.

Denise Quar­les’ mother, Myra Thompson, re­ceived her li­cense to preach just hours be­fore the June 17 shoot­ing at Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church in Charleston.

Quar­les said the group known as the Emanuel 9 smiled from heaven as the Con­fed­er­ate flag was taken down for good.

“The tragedy was a tragedy. But now on the other side of that tragedy, we see a lot of pos­i­tives com­ing out. Maybe peo­ple will change their hearts,” Quar­les said.

A van brought the flag to the nearby Con­fed­er­ate Relic Room and Mil­i­tary Mu­seum. There, it even­tu­ally will be housed in a mul­ti­mil­lion- dol­lar shrine law­mak­ers promised to build as part of a deal to get a bill passed re­mov­ing the flag.

South Carolina’s lead­ers first flew the bat­tle flag over the State­house dome in 1961 to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the Civil War. It re­mained there to rep­re­sent of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion to the civil rights move­ment.

Decades later, mass protests against the flag by those who said it was a sym­bol of racism and white supremacy led to a com­pro­mise in 2000 with law­mak­ers who in­sisted that it sym­bol­ized South­ern her­itage and states’ rights. The two sides came to an agree­ment to move the flag from the dome to a 30-foot pole next to a Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment in front of the State­house.

Many thought it would stay there. Now, even that flag­pole was re­moved Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Patsy Eaddy, a black woman, said there was a “sense of em­bar­rass­ment” of see­ing the flag still fly­ing af­ter all these years. She at­tended the cer­e­mony to see the im­por­tant mile­stone in the civil rights move­ment.

“We lived through the tur­bu­lent ‘60s. I’m just so happy to be here to wit­ness this,” she said.

Peo­ple who sup­ported re­mov­ing the flag chanted “take it down” be­fore the cer­e­mony and vastly out­num­bered those who were up­set about the move.

“It feels so good to be out here and be happy about it,” said Ron­ald D. Bar­ton, 52, a pas­tor who also was at the cer­e­mony in 2000.

Of­fi­cials es­ti­mated be­tween 8,000 and 10,000 peo­ple were on hand, ac­cord­ing to Sherri Ia­co­belli of the state Depart­ment of Public Safety.

Still, some were not cel­e­brat­ing. Clad in a black dress sim­i­lar to those worn in the 19th cen­tury, Cindy Lam­p­ley clutched a poster show­ing photos of an­ces­tors who fought for the Con­fed­er­acy. Lam­p­ley said she is a his­tor­i­cal reen­ac­tor who fears re­mov­ing sym­bols like the flag dis­hon­ors her rel­a­tives who fought for the South­ern cause.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber them,” Lam­p­ley said. “It’s a sad day for me, that my an­ces­tors will no longer see their flag fly­ing next to their me­mo­rial.”

Also Fri­day, the FBI said Roof should not been al­lowed to pur­chase the weapon used in the at­tack. FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey out­lined a se­ries of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­com­plete pa­per­work that al­lowed the trans­ac­tion to take place.

The prob­lem stemmed from an ar­rest of Dy­lann Roof in South Carolina weeks be­fore the shoot­ing in which po­lice say he ad­mit­ted to pos­sess­ing illegal drugs.

John Baze­more/AP

An honor guard from the South Carolina High­way pa­trol low­ers the Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag as it is re­moved from the Capi­tol grounds Fri­day, July 10, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The Con­fed­er­ate flag was low­ered from the grounds of the South Carolina...

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