COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she’s proud of how her state responded to the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston last month, a shooting that led to Friday’s removal of the Confederate flag flying in front of the Statehouse.
Haley told NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning that she’ll be thinking of the shooting victims as the flag is removed at a 10 a.m. ceremony.
Haley said South Carolinians honor tradition and history but the Confederate flag belongs in a museum where people can honor it appropriately.
Haley said: “No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel pain. No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel like they don’t belong.”
A ceremony has begun to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, where it has flown for 54 years.
The rebel banner will be taken down Friday morning by a state Highway Patrol honor guard. Thousands of people gathered at the Statehouse, some chanting “take it down.”
After the flag is removed, a van will take it to a nearby museum, where it will be housed.
The ceremony and flag removal come after the June 17 massacre of nine black parishioners at a Charleston church. A white man is charged, and authorities say the killings were racially motivated. The shootings reignited calls to remove Confederate symbols nationwide.
The Confederate flag was raised over the Capitol dome in 1961 to protest integration. It was moved in 2000 to a flagpole in front of the Statehouse.