"It sends, at best, mixed messages," says Joseph P. Riley.
The massacre that took place at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina last week has spawned a new round of debates about the symbolic legacy of the Confederacy.
In particular, the Confederate flag, which hasn't been taken down a notch from its place at the statehouse in Columbia –– where the American flag is flying at half-staff for nine days in memorium of the nine victims of the heinous shooting spree –– has become emblematic, and problematic, again for old school rhetoric about holding on to heritage, no matter how deeply entrenched in racism it is.
In the days following the massacre, pictures of the lone gunman accused of perpetrating a premeditated plan to start a modern day civil war surfaced, showing him posing with the flag. And some who are in mourning have been burning it. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office will investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (R), however, continues to decline to lower the flag. "My job is to heal the people of the state and I'm not gonna start taking political calls at this point," she told CBS This Morning.
Meanwhile, President Obama has called for the flag to be placed in a museum. Longtime Charleston mayor, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. (D) agrees. "It sends, at best, mixed messages and, at worst, for hateful people like [accused shooter Dylann] Roof, it’s an affirmation because they have appropriated something and used it as a symbol of hatred. So I think that it needs to go into a museum and I think it will,” he said, according to The Washington Post.
Riley may be right sooner than not. Some 1,500 gathered at the statehouse in protest Saturday (June 20), and those in favor of the removal aren't only on the Left. Mitt Romney posted a now viral tweet siding with the removal, and two Republican senators have said that they will introduce legislation to back it.
Reports CBS News, the statehouse flag was placed there in 1962, in response to the Civil Rights Movement.
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