Alabama Governor Robert Bentley orders Confederate flags to be removed from the grounds of the Southern state’s Capitol.
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, UNITED STATES (JUNE 23, 2015) (NBC) – Alabama’s governor ordered Confederate flags removed from the grounds of the Southern state’s Capitol, his office said on Wednesday (June 24), joining a growing movement of politicians to spurn an emblem widely associated with slavery and racism.
“If there are flags that are actually flying over the grounds, if I have the authority to remove them, then I’m going to. And I looked into it, we researched it, we looked at the laws, there was nothing said that it should be flown, there was no reason that I could not remove it, so that’s exactly what I did,” Governor Robert Bentley told reporters a week after the massacre of nine black worshippers at a Bible study session in a historic African-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 removed after a verbal order from the governor, a spokesperson said.
Bentley said it was an important move.
“I think that what I did today was symbolic. I think what I did today — I became the first governor to remove the Confederate flag. Other governors have called for it in Virginia and South Carolina, they didn’t do it. I did it,” he said.
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 website that also displayed a racist manifesto.
The Confederate flag controversy is the latest flashpoint in a year of intense debate over U.S. race relations, sparked by the killings of unarmed black men by police officers in a number of cities, including Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Baltimore. The outcry has prompted protests under the banner “black lives matter”.