Confederate Symbols Challenged And Removed Across The U.S. After Charleston Shooting

Confederate Symbols Challenged And Removed Across The U.S. After Charleston Shooting

The debate in South Carolina over removing lingering symbols of the Confederacy is spreading nationally.

1. The Confederate Battle Flag Outside South Carolina’s Capitol Building

The Confederate Battle Flag Outside South Carolina's Capitol Building
Rainier Ehrhardt / AP
After nine black people were murdered in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, attention soon turned to the Confederate battle flag flying on the South Carolina Capitol building’s campus.
Alleged shooter Dylann Roof often posed with the flag. And it was used in an online manifesto about white supremacy thought to belong to the 21-year-old.
While other flags across South Carolina were lowered to half-staff in the wake of the murders in remembrance of those killed, the Confederate flag continued to fly at full staff. That’s because state law controls the the height at which the flag is flown.
Protesters and activists began calling for lawmakers to permanently remove the flag from the public grounds — a movement that gained momentum Monday when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. all publicly called for the flag to come down.
Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper has created a live tally board showing the public positions of state lawmakers on whether the flag should be taken down.

2. The Design of the Mississippi State Flag

The Design of the Mississippi State Flag
Rogelio V. Solis / AP
The Mississippi state flag, which was adopted in 1894, features the Confederate battle flag in its upper left corner. In a 2001 referendum, voters overwhelmingly elected to retain the divisive symbol, which for many people, especially African-Americans, is seen as a pro-slavery emblem.
The push to change the state flag received a boost Tuesday evening when Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn released a statement calling for the flag to be redesigned. “We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” the Republican said. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense and needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”
Mississippi State Sen. Kenneth Wayne Jones, who leads his state’s legislative black caucus, told BuzzFeed News that a redesign of the flag was long overdue.
“It’s a problem for every African-American in Mississippi that that is what’s flying over our state,” said Jones. “At that time [in 2001] it was a very emotional issue, but I think if we put everyone at the table now with the right mindset of moving our state forward … you should be able to come up with something that doesn’t offend anyone and still captures the historical impact of the Civil War.”
BuzzFeed News has contacted the office of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant for comment.

3. Baltimore’s Robert E. Lee Park

Officials said they long planned to submit a letter urging the city to rename Robert E. Lee Park, Baltimore County Executive Chief of Staff Don Mohler told BuzzFeed News, but the events in Charleston loomed large and demanded a swift response.
“Nothing happens in isolation,” Mohler said of his decision to announce their plan on the same day as Haley spoke. “The time is now. The time is now to make the change. The name ‘Lake Roland Park’ is much more respectful to the diversity of our community.”
The park was taken over by the county in 2009 through a licensing agreement, meaning the city will still need to formally approve the name change. However, Mohler said he’s confident the name will be changed soon.

4. Jefferson Davis Statue on the University of Texas Campus in Austin

Jefferson Davis Statue on the University of Texas Campus in Austin
Keith Ewing / Via Flickr: kewing
The UT student government has been working to have a prominent statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, removed from campus, but the Charleston events have given their efforts momentum.
“The tragedy in South Carolina … sparked a lot of our students and alumni to think about the Confederate iconography on our campus,” student body president Xavier Rotnofsky, 21, told BuzzFeed News. “People reached out on social media, by email, in letters. It really gave our push to remove the statue some momentum.”
“Jefferson Davis stands for a most horrible part of our past and represents a movement based on white supremacy and racism, so we don’t think it’s appropriate for it to be on university public grounds,” he said.
Rotnofsky, who was elected in March, said he had met with the university president to discuss the issue and was confident an outcome would be reached soon.
Three UT statues of Confederate figures, including the Jefferson Davis piece, were vandalized on Monday evening, with the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the plinth.

5. A Bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Tennessee State Capitol

Lawmakers in Tennessee have been publicly objecting to statues of Confederate
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
One bust of Forrest sits in the Tennessee statehouse and there are now calls for its removal.
“Symbols of hate should not be promoted by government,” U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Republican, told the Tennessean. “South Carolina should remove the Confederate battle flag from its Capitol, and Tennessee should remove the bust of Forrest inside our Capitol.”
BuzzFeed News has contacted the office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for comment, but he told a local station he does support the removal of the statue.
Meanwhile, Nashville Democratic mayoral candidate Megan Barry is proposing trees and shrubs be planted alongside a highway to block a large monument to Forrest that sits on private land.
Mark Humphrey / AP
“This is an offensive display of hatred that should not be a symbol for a progressive and welcoming city such as Nashville,” Barry said in a statement.
“While we cannot remove this monument from private land, I had a good conversation with Governor Haslam and I look forward to working with him and with [the Tennessee Department of Transportation] to restore the trees and brush along the stretch of I-65. I am optimistic that we may be able to see action taken on this issue.”

6. A Confederate Naval Jack flag that hangs in The Citadel’s Chapel

The Citadel, a state-supported military college in South Carolina, voted to remove the Confederate Naval Jack that hangs in the school’s chapel.
The Board of Visitors voted on Tuesday 9-3 in favor of removing the flag from Summerall Chape and moving it to another location on campus, officials said in a statement.
The removal of the flag from the Citadel chapel is especially significant, as cadets from the school are considered by some to have fired the first shots of the Civil War. In 1861, cadets on Morris Island hit a steamship that was transporting supplies and Union troops. Cadets and faculty advisors continue to celebrate and even reenact the event at the military college, the Augusta Chronicle reported.
“The move will require an amendment to the Heritage Act by the South Carolina legislature,” a statement from Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rose said. “The board’s motion authorizes the Chair of the Board of Visitors and the administration of the college to work with the legislature on the amendment. The Board of Visitors and I believe now is the right time to move the flag from a place of worship to an appropriate location.”
The flag is covered by the Heritage Act, a 2000 law that was used as a reason for why it couldn’t be removed from the chapel after a Charleston city council member complained, PBS reported.
“Moving the flag from Summerall Chapel and properly displaying it in an appropriate location honors those who did their duty by serving while respecting the opinion of those who view the flag as divisive,” Lt. Gen. Michael Steele, chairman of the Board of Visitors, said in a statement.
It is not clear where the flag will be moved to once approval is gained from the South Carolina legislature, but Citadel’s Vice President of Communications Brett Ashworth told BuzzFeed News that the campus museum would be a place where they “will look first.” He added that the museum is currently under renovation and other options on campus would also be considered.

7. State License Plates

State License Plates

On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced his administration would begin removing Confederate flags from speciality state-issued license plates.
It followed a recent decision from the Supreme Court that ruled Texas and other states can restrict certain designs on speciality vehicle license plates because the plates constitute the government’s own speech.
Gov. McAuliffe said the enduring presence of the Confederate emblem was hindering efforts to make his state “more open and welcome to everyone.”
“As Governor Haley said yesterday, her state can ill afford to let this symbol continue to divide the people of South Carolina,” McAuliffe said. “I believe the same is true here in Virginia.”
“Even [the Confederate flag’s] display on state issued license tags is, in my view, unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people,” he said.
The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also announced Tuesday that she believed Maryland should stop issuing license plates with the Confederate flag, describing it on Twitter as “divisive and offensive.”
A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told BuzzFeed News he backed the mayor’s comments.
“Governor Hogan is against the use of the Confederate flag on Maryland license plates,” Press Secretary Erin Montgomery said. “Our office is working with the Motor Vehicle Administration and the Attorney General to address this issue.”
Tennessee Gov. Haslam said Monday he also supported the removal of the Confederate flag from speciality license plates in his state, the Times Free Pressreported.

8. Products Sold by Several Major Retailers

Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and Sears were among several major retailers to announce that they would no longer sell products featuring the Confederate flag.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” a Walmart spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our website.”
Ebay said it had decided to prohibit the sale of Confederate flags because they had become a “contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, and racial intolerance,” the spokesperson said.
Online marketplace Etsy also announced it would no longer carry Confederate-themed products. “Etsy’s policies prohibit items or listings that promote, support, or glorify hatred and these items fall squarely into that category,” the company told BuzzFeed News.

9. Confederate Flags at the Alabama State Capitol

Like South Carolina, Alabama has flown Confederate flags on public ground outside its Capitol building in Montgomery to commemorate the Civil War dead.
Democratic State Rep. Alvin Holmes told the Associated Press Tuesday that he planned to file a legislative resolution to have the flags removed, saying they’re offensive and have no place at a public building.
In 1993, Holmes was part of a group of black lawmakers who filed a successful lawsuit against the then-governor to have the Confederate flag removed from the top of the Capitol building.
An online petition has also been created to “move Alabama forward” and remove the flags from the Capitol grounds.
The move is opposed by Republican Rep. Gary Palmer, who told a local radio station that calls to remove the flags in South Carolina were coming from “people that have an agenda seeking to exploit a tragedy.”
BuzzFeed News is awaiting comment from Alabama Gov. Robert J. Bentley.

10. Statue of Jefferson Davis in Kentucky’s Capitol building

Statue of Jefferson Davis in Kentucky's Capitol building
Patti Longmire / AP
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday requested a review of all monuments at the state Capitol after the Republican candidate to succeed him called for the statue of Jefferson Davis to be removed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky echoed Beshear, telling reporters that the Jefferson Davis statue, which has sat in the Capitol building’s rotunda for more than 50 years, would likely be better placed elsewhere.
“I think it’s appropriate, certainly in Kentucky, to be talking about the appropriateness of continuing to have Jefferson Davis’ statue in a very prominent place in our state capital,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
He went on to suggest moving the statue be moved to the Kentucky History Museum.
Beshear’s call for a commission to review monuments on Capitol grounds “in context of Kentucky’s history” came after Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee for governor, and state Senate president Robert Stivers said the Davis statue should be removed.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Beshear said that while “Davis’ likeness hasn’t been used in the same way as the Confederate flag, a broader discussion of the statue’s position in the Capitol is due.”

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