Shortly after 10 a.m. Highway Patrol honor guards took down the Confederate battle flag that has flown over the South Carolina statehouse grounds for 54 years.
Thousands gathered on the grounds to watch the divisive symbol come down, at times shouting, "Take it down" and "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!" It was quite symbolic at the end of the ceremony, as an African-American trooper handed over the battle flag to an archivist who would place it in the nearby Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
Since the June 17 shooting of nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., several leaders and activists have demanded that the flag be taken down. The family of the late Myra Thompson was in attendance.
Earlier this week, S.C. Rep. Jenny Horne gave a passionate speech endorsing its removal.
"I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday," said Rep. Horne as she began sobbing. "And if any of you vote to amend you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Clementa C. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury."
The flagpole is also set to come down, but a timetable has not been set, according to the Associated Press.
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(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)