Regulation

MoveOn petition decries Confederate flag as symbol of ‘hate, racism’

Confederate Flag, MoveOn, Charleston
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Activists with MoveOn have launched a petition seeking the removal of the Confederate flag from government buildings in South Carolina.

More than 120,000 people have signed the petition, which calls the flag a “symbol of hate, racism, and division.”

“Symbols of hate have no place in our government,” the petition reads. “The Confederate flag is not a symbol of southern pride but rather a symbol of rebellion and racism.”

{mosads}The debate over the flag has been reignited by this week’s mass shooting in South Carolina.

Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white man, allegedly killed nine church members who were attending a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.

Authorities believe the shooting was racially motivated.

The shooting has revived the debate over whether the South Carolina government should hang a Confederate flag, as it does at a memorial honoring Confederate soldiers near the statehouse.

While the U.S. and Palmetto State flag were lowered Thursday following the shooting, the Confederate flag remained at the top of its staff. Under state law, only the legislature can order the flag to be lowered.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a candidate for president, defended his home state’s use of the Confederate flag on Friday, saying “this is part of who we are.”

“The flag represents to some people a civil war, and that was the symbol of one side. To others it’s a racist symbol, and it’s been used by people, it’s been used in a racist way,” Graham told CNN.

Graham called for a “balanced” approach to the issue of the flag, noting that near the Civil War memorial honoring fallen Confederate soldiers is another one honoring African-Americans.

Civil rights advocates say displaying the Confederate flag “taunts the victims” of the shooting.

“When I thought of the fact that the Confederate flag — a symbol of racism — was still flying over the capitol of South Carolina, taunting the victims of this terrible crime and of every black person it flew over I knew I needed to take action,” said the organizer of the petition.

“On the heels of the brutal killing of nine black people in a South Carolina church by a racist terrorist, it’s time to put that symbol of rebellion and racism behind us and move toward healing and a better United States of America!” the petitioner added.

—Jesse Byrnes contributed. 

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