South Carolina governor signs bill to remove Confederate flag

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs legislation permanently removing the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds, following an emotional debate spurred by the massacre of nine black churchgoers last month.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES (JULY 9, 2015) (NBC) – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation on Thursday (July 9) to permanently remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds, following an emotional debate spurred by the massacre of nine black churchgoers last month.

Haley signed the bill into law in the State House Rotunda before an audience of legislators and dignitaries shortly after 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), and her office said the flag would be taken down at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday (July 10).

The South Carolina House overwhelmingly approved the legislation after 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) on Thursday. The state Senate passed it earlier in the week, also by a huge margin.

“I saw passions get high, I saw passions get low, but I saw commitment never ending,” Haley said about before the bill signing, referring to the debate.

The flag will go to the “relic room” of a military museum in Columbia, the state capital.

“We are a state that believes in tradition. We’re a state that believes in history. We’re a state that believes in respect,” Haley said. “So we will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure that it is put in its rightful place,” she continued.

South Carolina was planning to keep the flag relocation “as low-key as the national media will let us,” said Haley spokeswoman Chaney Adams.

Haley invoked the memory of the nine victims of the shooting whose deaths spurred the latest debate over the flag, saying that the ability of the victim’s families to forgive the shooter created a chain reaction leading to the bill’s signing.

“May we never forget the actions that those people took to get us to this point today,” Haley said after acknowledging that nine of the pens she used during the bill signing will be given to each of the nine victim’s families.

The rebel banner, carried by Confederate troops in the 1861-1865 Civil War, is seen as a symbol of racism and slavery by many, while others proudly hail it as an emblem of Southern heritage. It has flown at the state capitol for 54 years.

The flag, carried by Confederate troops in the 1861-1865 Civil War, is seen as a symbol of racism and slavery by many, while others proudly hail it as an emblem of Southern heritage. It has flown at the state capitol for 54 years.