A prominent South Carolina lawmaker revealed plans to introduce a bill that would remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse — and likely, he admitted, cost him re-election.
Republican Rep. Doug Brannon of South Carolina, who was first elected in 2010, said he’s felt for years that the flag should come down. Following Wednesday’s massacre in Charleston and the death of his friend, Reverend and Democratic state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Brannon decided it was time to do something about it.
“I just didn't have the balls for five years to do it. But when my friend was assassinated for being nothing more than a black man, I decided it was time for that thing to be off the Statehouse grounds,” Brannon said on Saturday. “It's not just a symbol of hate, it's actually a symbol of pride in one's hatred."
The brutal, racially-motivated attack last Wednesday at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in downtown Charleston, which left nine people dead, reignited a longstanding debate over the Confederate flag and what it represents.
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Charleston shooter Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old resident of Columbia — where the flag remains at full staff in front of the statehouse — fled from the church following the murders in a car bearing a Confederate symbol on his license plate. A recently discovered “manifesto” written by Roof included pictures of the young man proudly displaying the flag while brandishing a gun.
On Saturday evening, a large crowd gathered around the statehouse for a rally to protest the flying of the controversial flag.
Brannon said he realizes the consequences of the stance he’s taken and the actions he’ll be taking to try and remove the flag, citing former Gov. David Beasley, who lost re-election in 1998 after coming out in support of the flag’s removal.
“I was very proud of him for his position,” Brannon said. “But I understand politics and why it landed where it did."
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Brannon plans to introduce a bill in December -- when bills are first allowed to be pre-filed for the legislative session, which resumes in January -- aimed at moving the Confederate flag and pole to the state's Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
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