Charleston killings lead to debate over Confederate flag

CCTV News

Charleston killings lead to debate over Confederate flag

In South Carolina this weekend, U.S. and state flags remain flying at half-staff in tribute to the nine people killed in the church massacre in Charleston. But one controversial flag has not been lowered – the Confederate flag, still flying on state capitol grounds. And many say it’s time to bring it down.

It’s been dubbed ‘the Stars and Bars.’ blue stripes dividing red triangles, dating back to an America that once legally separated blacks from whites.

CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from Charleston.

Charleston residents weigh in on Condeferate flag

Charleston residents weigh in on Condeferate flag

In South Carolina this weekend, U.S. and state flags remain flying at half-staff in tribute to the nine people killed in the church massacre in Charleston. But one controversial flag has not been lowered - the Confederate flag, still flying on state capitol grounds. And many say it's time to bring it down.

To many, the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage. To others it is a reminder of hate. In 2000, it was removed from the dome of South Carolina’s state capital building and hoisted over a nearby memorial for Confederate soldiers. A two-thirds vote by the state’s General Assembly would be required to remove it.

This is exactly what people like Bakari Sellers, a former state delegate, want.

“How can you do such good work and want to represent all people and be so compassionate, yet disregard the cares, when it comes to despair and hate, that flag means to so many of us,” Sellers said.

During the United States’ civil war in the 1860’s, the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern pride, a monument to those who fought for their homeland and those who supported slavery.

It was embraced 100 years later by white supremacists, who terrorized black citizens during the civil rights movement.

And again, last Wednesday, by a young white man, who allegedly shot and killed nine black worshippers at a historic church in Charleston.

“It’s just very unfortunate that there are those who are attempting to exploit this great tragedy that we’ve had here in South Carolina and make some connection to the soldier’s flag on a confederate soldiers monument,” South Carolina State Senator Larry Martin said. ¬†But for some, the states’ troubled racial divide isn’t confined to the history books.

In April, a video showing a local unarmed black man, Walter Scott, being shot multiple times in the back by a white officer went viral. The officer was charged with murder. Local residents say the real reason Scott died is because he was black.

For some, the confederate flag represents an underlying issue: lingering racism.

“People are going to be what they want to be. So if you’re wearing a certain T-shirt, or if you have a flag by your house, that’s not going to make you do whatever you do. Because you cannot have the flag and still be just as racist,” Charleston resident Stephen Addison said.

Changing the flag he says won’t make a difference. Changing people will.