The South Carolina Senate could soon approve removing the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House.
Senators voted 37-3 to remove the flag on Monday, the second of three readings of the bill. The Senate will have to vote again on Tuesday before the bill can move on to the South Carolina House.
The bill requires a two-thirds majority to remove the flag. The earliest the House could vote would be Wednesday.
If both chambers pass the bill, Governor Nikki Haley would have to sign it before it could become law. Governor Haley has said she supports the flag's removal.
Calls for the flag’s removal have come from Governor Haley, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham — a presidential candidate — and several state lawmakers after a massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on 17 June that left nine black parishioners dead.
The man who has admitted to the shooting, Dylan Roof, allegedly had been spewing racial hate prior to the committing the act and has since surfaced in several photos waving the Confederate flag.
Supporters of the flag say it is a symbol of Southern heritage, not racism, but opponents say it is a painful reminder of a troubling part of American history.
The Charleston shooting launched a wave of support for the removal of the Confederate flag and several large companies have removed items bearing the flag from their shelves.
In the days immediately after the shooting, calls began ringing out for the removal of the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House, where it has flown since 2000. Prior to that, it was on the dome of the State House.
“We should be able to get a bill to the governor’s desk by the end of the week,” said Marlon Kimpson, a state senator.
If the bill becomes law, the Confederate flag will be moved from its post near the State House to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, the New York Times reported.
A CNN poll found that 57 per cent of Americans feel that the flag is more a symbol of pride than racism, while 33 per cent said it was more about racism.
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