Nikki Haley asks South Carolina lawmakers to take down Confederate flag from statehouse

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By: Seanna Adcox, Jeffrey Collins and Meg Kinnard/Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — For 15 years, South Carolina lawmakers have refused to revisit the Confederate flag’s flying on Statehouse grounds, saying the 2000 law that took it off the dome was a bipartisan compromise and renewing that debate would unnecessarily expose divisive wounds.

But opinions changed within five days of the massacre of nine people at a black church in Charleston, as a growing tide of Republicans joined the call to put the battle flag in a museum.

On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley not only called for the flag’s removal, but pledged to order legislators back to Columbia for another special session if they don’t deal with it themselves.

Removing the flag won’t be easy, despite the shifting sentiment. A two-thirds majority will be needed to bring it down.

MISSISSIPPI LEADERS CONSIDERING REMOVING CONFEDERATE SYMBOL FROM STATE FLAG

Mississippi officials are divided over whether to erase the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, even as South Carolina leaders are pushing to remove a free-standing battle flag that flies outside the state Capitol there.

Mississippi voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin in 2001 to keep the state flag that has been used since 1894. It features the Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner: a blue X emblazoned with 13 white stars, set against a red field.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Monday that he doesn’t believe legislators “will act to supersede the will of the people on this issue.”

Democratic Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, says the Confederate emblem is a “symbol of hatred” that’s often associated with racial violence.

WALMART STOPS SELLING CONFEDERATE FLAG ITEMS

Wal-Mart says it is removing any items from its store shelves and website that feature the Confederate flag.

The announcement by the world’s biggest retailer Monday comes as the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, have reignited the debate over the flag’s symbolism. The white suspect in the shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the banner.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday that the flag should be removed from the statehouse grounds, acknowledging that to many the flag is a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”

In a statement, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart says its goal is to not offend anyone with the products it offers.