Law allows Confederate flag to retire

  • 10/07/2015
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs into law a bill removing the Confederate flag flying (AAP)
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs into law a bill removing the Confederate flag flying (AAP)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has signed into law a bill to retire the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol.

It's a measure she urged legislators to adopt after a white supremacist gunned down nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston.

Haley - surrounded on Thursday (local time) by politicians, former governors and relatives of the victims of the June 17 massacre at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church - said that the measure concerned the "future of our children".

"The Confederate flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse" on Friday, Haley, a Republican, said before signing the bill.

"We will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure it is stored in its rightful place."

The Confederate battle flag, flown by forces of the Southern states during the 1861-1865 Civil War, once again became a controversial symbol after the Charleston killings.

One of the victims of the massacre was state Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was also senior pastor - known as Mother Emanuel - of the church.

Shortly after the shooting, photos were made public showing Dylann Roof, the young man arrested as the killer, who said the massacre was his attempt to start a race war, posing with the Confederate flag.

The Charleston incident sparked debate in several Southern states over the use of the flag on public buildings.

The flag was placed on the capitol dome in 1961, ostensibly to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, though the re-emergence of the Confederate banner in the South decades after it fell into disuse coincided with the civil rights movement and federally mandated desegregation.

The flag was transferred to its current location on the capitol grounds in 2000.

Ted Pitts, the head of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that since 1999 the business community has lobbied for the removal of the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds.

"The Hispanic community hails the removal of the flag from the capitol, and it joins in the celebrations with the black community and all minorities that for years have expressed their disgust with this symbol of hatred and discrimination at the state legislature," Ivan Segura, the president of the Council of Mexicans in the Carolinas, said.