During a CNN interview about his state’s Confederate flag controversy, South Carolina state representative Bill Chumley (R) defended the capitol’s continued use of the flag and said that the victims “waited their turn to be shot.”
“This flag should stay where it was put 15 years ago as a compromise,” Chumley said. “I think that misuse and miseducation of the flag has probably pushed it to this point. But I think the demographics are still the same. My constituents are calling and talking to me a lot about it, and that’s the way they feel.”
When asked why the state should continue to fly the flag if hate groups have adopted it, he turned the conversation into a gun debate, saying that the nine murdered people should have perhaps overtaken the gunman, and even implying that they stood by while the killer, Dylann Roof, reloaded his weapon.
Why do we let hate groups dictate how we feel and how we live? Hate groups are everywhere. There are mean people everywhere. We found that out in Charleston. We’re focusing on the wrong things here. We need to be focused on the nine families that are left and see that this doesn’t happen again. These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad. Somebody in there with a means of self-defense could have stopped this and we’d have less funerals than we’re having. Why didn’t somebody just do something? You’ve got one skinny person shooting a gun. I mean, we need to do what we can.
Meanwhile, Alabama governor Robert Bentley had the Confederate flag removed from its perch near a Confederate memorial on the state capitol grounds this morning. When a local news outlet asked if it was in response to the Charleston tragedy, he said, “Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.” Ninety minutes after removing the Confederate flag, workers also removed three other Civil War-era flags.