Fri, Jun 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Alabama governor orders Confederate flags taken down

Reuters, BIRMINGHAM, Alabama

Government workers take down a Confederate national flag on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol, on Wednesday in Montgomery, Alabama.

Photo: AP

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered Confederate flags removed from the grounds of the southern state’s Capitol, his office said on Wednesday, joining a growing movement of politicians to spurn an emblem widely associated with slavery and racism.

“This is the right thing to do,” Bentley said in a statement that came a week after the massacre of nine black worshippers at a Bible study session in a historic black American church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The four flags located around the Confederate Memorial on the State Capitol grounds in Montgomery were taken down on Wednesday morning.

The flags — a Confederate battle flag and three flags with different designs used by the Confederate States of America — were taken down after a verbal order from the governor “first thing this morning,” Bentley’s press secretary, Yasamie August, said in a telephone interview.

August said Bentley decided to have the flags taken down because he did not want them to be a distraction from other state issues.

Asked if the flags would be moved to a museum, she said did not know what the next step would be.

The Civil War-era flags of the South’s pro-slavery Confederacy have become a lightning rod for outrage after the shootings last week at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, which authorities say was motivated by racial hatred.

Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white South Carolina man charged with nine counts of murder in the killings, had posed with a Confederate battle flag in photos posted on a Web site that also displayed a racist manifesto.

“I am very proud of the governor,” said Doug Jones, a former US attorney who prosecuted the 1963 bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, by Ku Klux Klan members that killed four black girls.

“There’s a pretty strong movement now. It’s just tragic that it took the death of nine people to make people start realizing that flag is a symbol of hate,” Jones said in a telephone interview.

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