COLUMBIA, S.C. (MEDIA GENERAL) – Following Wednesday’s shooting that left nine black church parishioners dead at the hands of a proclaimed white supremacist, the debate over the Confederate flag has been reignited.
Currently, the Confederate flag flies on state property, to remember South Carolinans who made sacrifices during the Civil War. But Republican state Rep. Doug Brannon says it’s time for the flag to come down.
“The switch that flipped was the death of my friend, (state) Sen. (Clementa) Pinckney,” Brannon told CBS News. “I’ve been in the House five years. I should have filed that bill five years ago. But the time is now. I can’t let my friend, the senator’s death, go without fundamental change in South Carolina.”
Brannon, who stated his stance likely will cost him voters come re-election, plans to introduce a bill as early as possible, which would be in December.
The flag is central to a long-running debate about southern heritage. Many people hold the flag to resemble their ancestors and the history of southern states, especially serving in the Civil War.
“We want to remember those men. They are family members, there are pictures on our walls, their names are in our Bibles. They’re a part of us, their DNA is in us,” Randy Burbage of the Sons of Confederate Veterans told CBS News.
While many others cannot separate the flag that also stood as an icon against civil rights and in support of slavery. The Confederate flag was adopted by several white supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, who have used the symbol to spread its racist ideals.
According to NAACP president Cornell Brooks, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and a symbol that divides Americans.
“The flag has to come down,” Brooks said Friday, June 19, 2015 during a news conference. “We say this not because we’re trying to sow division, but rather because we’re trying to sow unity – a unity of purpose, a unity of commitment, a unity of resolve – so that we confront the racism in our midst. And that means, certainly symbolically, we cannot have the Confederate flag waving in the state capitol.”
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on whether the Confederate flag should be flown in front of the South Carolina statehouse: “It is up to the people of South Carolina, but I hope they remove a flag that many see as a symbol of racial intolerance. The flag to fly is the American flag because it is a symbol that this is one country and we are all Americans.”
People have taken to social media to weigh in on the matter. You can voice your side in our poll below.
Here are a few arguments for or against the Confederate flag.