Gov Haley Q&A on Emanuel AME, flag

Gov Haley Q&A on Emanuel AME, flag: ‘This was like a hurricane hit South Carolina’


COLUMBIA, SC — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley remains emotional nearly two weeks after nine African-American churchgoers were gunned down during a Bible study in Charleston in what is being called a hate crime.

The mother of two broke down at times Monday when speaking about the shootings at Emanuel AME Church. Haley has attended funerals for eight of the victims since Thursday. The final service is Tuesday.

But Haley’s tears dried when she spoke about the need to move the Confederate flag from the State House grounds. That appears likely after Republican and other S.C. political leaders called for the banner’s removal June 22. The Legislature takes up the issue July 6.

“What is so important for people to understand is that there’s no winners and losers here. I know people who truly respect this Confederate flag. They respect honor. They respect duty. They respect service, and that’s what they want,” Haley told The State Monday. “But when it’s used for hate, I can’t allow anything used for hate to be on the State House grounds and represent all the people of South Carolina. I work for all of the people of South Carolina.”

A week after her historic call for the flag’s removal, Haley spoke to The State in her State House office. Excerpts from the interview:
Do you think you should have called for the flag’s removal before the shooting?

“Over the last four years, my focus was very much on jobs, very much on the economy, strengthening the state. And while the flag had come up here or there, it had come up more in the way with Republicans and Democrats, who had been in the flag debate (in 2000), not wanting to go there again. It was too hurtful. It was too divisive. They didn’t want to revisit (it). And there was always the hurdle of the two-thirds vote (required in the General Assembly). That’s always a tough hurdle to climb. It had come and gone in passing, but truly no serious conversations about the flag.”

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