Demonstrators preparing to gather at the South Carolina Capitol on Saturday to protest the flying of a Confederate flag on statehouse grounds received some unexpected support from former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims,” the former governor of Massachusetts said on Twitter
While he did not specifically mention the march planned for Saturday evening, his comments clearly supported the group’s goal.
The debate over the flag has flared anew following the killing of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church earlier this week. Dylann Roof, 21, who sported white supremacist patches on a jacket and had a Confederate flag license tag on the front of his car, has been charged with murder for the attack on Wednesday.
Organizers of Saturday’s march stressed on Facebook the demonstration would be peaceful and nonviolent.
“We are NOT planning in taking down the Confederate flag ourselves .. at the event,” the post said. “We are a peaceful and concerned community group wanting to express and discuss legislative changes to take down that symbol. We are not endorsing any violent expression or disrespectful action whatsoever.”
A petition by the liberal public advocacy group MoveOn.org calling for the flag’s removal had gathered more than 300,000 signatures by Saturday morning. The petition, addressed to South Carolina state representatives and the governor, said: “Symbols of hate and division have no place in our government. It’s time to stand up for what’s right and take down the Confederate Flag!”
For some South Carolina residents, the Confederate flag hanging outside the Statehouse represents their heritage. For others, it is a sobering reminder of the state’s dark history — marred by white supremacy and slavery.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin and Tyler Pager