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Tensions rise over Confederate flag near South Carolina government building

President Obama is among the politicians voicing his support for the protesters in South Carolina who are demanding the removal of a Confederate flag, which is still flying next to the state’s legislative building.

The flag has been in place since the early 1960s and has sparked much controversy over the decades.

The protests have been reignited by the racially motivated killing of nine African-Americans in a church on Saturday.

President Obama has retweeted a tweet by Republican Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, which read:

“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 president added: “Good point, Mitt.”

The flag lies at the heart of the concerns raised by many South Carolina residents in the wake of Saturday’s killings. While there are still pro-Confederacy groups active in the state, the lawmakers’ main motivation for keeping the flag flying on capitol grounds is that it symbolises South Carolina’s heritage.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican) told CNN that the flag “is part of who we are”.

The Confederacy seceded from the Union in 1861 because of its pro-slavery policies, sparking the US Civil War. Many believe it is time to stop flying the Confederate flag, especially near government buildings. President Obama said that the flag belonged in a museum, according to Reuters.

State legislators announced on Friday that they are proposing a bill which would revisit the debate.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered on the state capitol grounds, expressing their support for the bill. Pictures of the alleged killer of the nine churchgoers, Dylann Roof, have emerged online in which he is seen standing beside a Confederate flag.

 

Elisabeth Brahier

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