In a much-anticipated press conference today, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley unequivocally stated for the first time that she supports the removal of the State Flag (which has the Confederate flag incorporated in it) from atop the South Carolina State House. Flanked by Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham (the latter of whom is also running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination) among other local politicians, Haley responded to a long-standing debate over the flag that was invigorated in response to last week’s massacre of nine black civilians by a white supremacy-informed killer in Charleston:
“Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds…This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.”
Haley, a Republican politician of Sikh Punjabi descent, has previously come under fire for her conservative positions and support for the flag remaining on top of the House. Her change in position appears to be some sort of appeasement of the recently-intensified anti-flag protests.
Haley made more news in the massacre’s wake when she stated that she would support the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the man who perpetrated the massacre in Charleston. The statements from her and Graham, the first Republican presidential candidate to stand behind the flag’s removal despite previously calling the flag “part of who we are,” appear strategic given South Carolina’s importance in primary elections. President Obama and Vice President Biden are slated to appear at a funeral on Friday for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and AME Church Leader who was among those slain on Wednesday.