By Veronica Ung-Kono
Bible study–a time for prayer and reflection. No one expected a tragedy so great on June 17th, when shooter, Dylann Roof, walked into the bible study group of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed nine people, including the Church’s pastor and Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
The following Monday, local leaders announced they would hold a rally at 11 a.m. the next day, right before the General Assembly would go into session to ask lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag in front of the State Capitol.
“The time has come for the General Assembly to do what it ought to have done a long time ago, which is to remove this symbol of division and even of terrorism to some,” said Rev. Nelson B. Rivers told CNN at a press conference. He said the flag symbolizes the worst of South Carolina’s history and belongs in a place where it can be viewed as history.
Removing it would be an honor to those who lost their lives, he said.
Agreeing with Rivers, South Carolina state Rep. Doug Brannon, a Republican, remarked, “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 told CBS News, regarding the death of Democratic state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
However, many in South Carolina have voiced their opinions to keep the flag, calling it a “symbol of their heritage.”
As the debate to remove the flag continues, many of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination now find themselves in an uncomfortable position, as they attempt to prevent the alienation of certain Southern conservatives, while remaining loyal to the African-American voters they pledged to make more of an effort to court. Many have expressed their grief for the tragedy, but say the decision lies within the border lines of the state. Meanwhile South Carolinians await a decision.
One thing is for sure, the “Stainless Banner” has left a large stain on the state of South Carolina.