Republican Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from Alabama’s state Capitol grounds this morning.
Bentley confirmed the move to Al.com.
“This is the right thing to do,” Bentley told Al.com. “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."
Two state workers took down the flag at 8:30 a.m. eastern time this morning.
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The Confederate battle flag wasn’t the only Confederate-era flag taken down in Alabama today. State workers also removed the Second National Confederate Flag, commonly referred to as the “Stainless Banner,” and the Third National Confederate Flag.
Gov. Bentley was asked by local reporters if the flags were taken down in response to last week’s Charleston, South Carolina church shooting. Bentley confirmed those suspicions, saying, “Yes, this is partially about that.”
The move by Bentley comes as lawmakers across the southeastern United States are debating the appropriateness of the Confederate flag’s continued presence on public grounds. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina called for the flag to be removed from South Carolina’s Capitol grounds this week, but the change can’t be made without approval from the state legislature. Alabama has no such requirement. In Mississippi, lawmakers may soon debate whether the Confederate portion of its state flag should be removed.
In the private sector, eBay, Amazon, Walmart and Sears have all vowed to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.