Alabama governor orders removal of Confederate flag from capitol grounds – Politico
The tide against the Confederate flag and its historical markers continued to swell on Wednesday.
It swept through Alabama, where Gov. Robert Bentley became the latest public official to take a stand against the rebel banner’s display on government property, and Mississippi, where Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran changed course and said their state should replace its flag, which features the battle emblem of the Confederacy.
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Bentley on Wednesday ordered the removal of the Confederate battle flag and three other flags from the grounds in front of the state Capitol in Montgomery, where it stood in front of a memorial honoring Civil War soldiers.
According to AL.com, two workers emerged from the Capitol around 8:20 a.m. and took down the flags without fanfare.
Asked by a reporter whether he had ordered the flag’s removal, Bentley replied, “Yes I did.” Part of the reason, the Republican governor told AL.com, was last week’s shooting in South Carolina and the subsequent debate that has emerged surrounding the Confederate flag on that state’s Capitol grounds. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced earlier this week that the flag should be moved to a museum.
“This is the right thing to do,” Bentley said, according to the report. “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.”
The battle flag is not the only Civil War-era flag at the Capitol in Montgomery, however. Three other flags, representing the first, second and third versions of the National Confederate Flag, also were removed, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.
In Mississippi, the St. Andrews Cross remains on the state flag, made official just 14 years ago when voters rejected a referendum that would have replaced the emblem with a blue canton featuring 20 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, the six nations that have ruled the territory and the state itself. The flag in use in the Magnolia State has remained the same since 1894.
Wicker, a Republican who just two days ago deferred to the state’s Legislature to make any changes, said Wednesday that the current flag “should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians.” The state’s senior senator, Republican Thad Cochran, said earlier this week that the flag should not be changed because of a controversy in another state.
But shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Cochran sharply changed course, announcing in a press release that “it is my personal hope that the state government will consider changing the state flag.”
“I appreciate the views of my friend and colleague Roger Wicker, and agree that we should look for unity and not divisiveness in the symbols of our state,” Cochran said.
Kentucky is wrestling with its own Confederate-era debate, one focused on a statue instead of a flag.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on his home state to remove its statue of Jefferson Davis from the statehouse in Frankfort and instead display it in the state’s history museum. Kentucky, which didn’t join the Confederacy, was the birthplace of Davis, the first and only president of the rebel states.
Gubernatorial contenders in the Bluegrass State agreed. On Tuesday, McConnell’s former Senate primary opponent Matt Bevin, who is currently running for governor, said it is “appropriate” to remove the statue from the statehouse, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway on Wednesday said it “belongs in a museum, where history is taught, rather than in the State Capitol, where laws are made, where rights are upheld, and where we strive for equal justice under the law,” adding that he had submitted a public comment to the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to that effect.