South Carolina on Friday permanently removed the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds, sending away the rebel banner that is a symbol of slavery and racism to many but of Southern heritage and pride to others.
The banner, which went up on the State House grounds more than half a century ago at the height of the U.S. civil rights movement, was removed shortly after 10 a.m. before a large crowd and live TV cameras.
The relocation of the flag came a little over three weeks after the racially motivated massacre of nine black worshippers during a Bible study session on June 17 at a landmark black church in Charleston.
The banner’s new home will be the “relic room” of the state military museum in Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, where the flag will reside with other artifacts carried by Southern Confederate soldiers 150 years ago in the Civil War.
South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley, who had pledged a day earlier to “bring it down with dignity,” called Friday a great day for the state in an interview with NBC’s “Today” television show.
“I’m thinking of those nine people today,” Haley said, referring to the nine men and women gunned down at Charleston’s African Methodist Episcopal church.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Paul Tait and Lisa Lambert)