On Friday evening, the White House said that President Barack Obama believes the Confederate flag “belongs in a museum” after calls to remove the flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s Capitol intensified after the mass murder at South Carolina’s Emanuel AME church.
Opponents of the Confederate flag became more vocal after it was revealed that Dylann Storm Roof–the suspected mass murderer of nine people at the historic African-American church–reportedly drove a car with Confederate flag license plates.
“The president has said before he believes the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and that is still his position,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said on Air Force One.
On Friday, NAACP President Cornell Brooks called the Confederate flag “a tool of hate” and said it needed to be taken down.
“When we see that symbol lifted up as an emblem of hate, as a tool of hate, as an inspiration for hate, as an inspiration for violence, that symbol has to come down,” Brooks said.
In 2000, South Carolina took the Confederate flag down from the Capitol but Palmetto State lawmakers voted to fly the flag at the Confederate War Memorial on the grounds of the Capitol. While the American and South Carolina flags were lowered and flown at half-staff after the shootings, the Confederate flag at the War Memorial was not because it cannot be without the approval of the state’s General Assembly, according to state law.
“This flag must be flown on a flagpole located at a point on the south side of the Confederate Soldier Monument, centered on the monument, ten feet from the base of the monument at a height of thirty feet,” the law states. “The flagpole on which the flag is flown and the area adjacent to the monument and flagpole must be illuminated at night and an appropriate decorative iron fence must be erected around the flagpole.”
Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley did not take a position on the issue, saying she would “come out and talk about it” in the future.
“I think that conversation will probably come back up again. And you what we hope that we do things the way South Carolinians do, which is have the conversation, allow some thoughtful words to be exchanged, be kind about it, come together on what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to do it,” she said on CBS. “I think the state will start talking about that again. We’ll see where it goes.”
When asked what her personal position on the Confederate flag was, Haley said that though the media want to “to start having policy conversations with the people of South Carolina,” her “job is to heal the people of this state.”
“There will be policy discussions and you will hear my come out and talk about it,” she said. “But right now, I’m not doing that to the people of my state.”