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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) apologized Thursday evening for suggesting states should be able to display the Confederate flag at their individual capitols if they so desire.
“I take my job as governor of 100 percent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts very seriously, and, as I said, I’m sorry I didn’t do a particularly good job representing that today,” Baker said, according to The Boston Globe.
“I just want to be clear — I abhor the symbolism and the history of the flag as much as anybody, and I am more than cognizant of the fact that literally millions of Americans died over what it represents in the Civil War,” he added.
Baker originally defended the ability to fly the Confederate flag as a state’s right during remarks Thursday morning about the fact that the flag's display at the capitol in Columbia, S.C.
He reversed course later that evening, after criticism from some of his constituents.
“I think they should take the flag down,” he said Thursday night, according to The Boston Globe.
“The symbolism of this one is important, and I should have done a better job of appreciating that."
Baker initially said Thursday morning that South Carolina lawmakers were responsible for what best represents their constituents.
“The farther government gets away from the people, the more nervous I get about the way it behaves, and my view on stuff like this is that South Carolinians can make their own call,” he said during an interview with WGBH radio host Jim Braude.
“I do believe the reason that flag still hangs there is, you know, what I would call sort of tradition, or something like that,” he added.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported Thursday that two Confederate flags in Columbia were at full-mast that afternoon.
The first was a banner in front of the South Carolina State House. The second was on display at a monument to Confederate soldiers located elsewhere in the capital city.
Officials say both emblems remained untouched because their status is protected under state law. The South Carolina legislature decides when and if such flags go up or down.
Critics say displaying the Confederate flag is insensitive following the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday evening.
Nine people died, when a gunman opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a service.
Witnesses said that Dylann Storm Roof, 21, uttered racial epithets before beginning the attack.
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