Activists urge South Carolina capitol to take down rebel flag after massacre

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
After Charleston, the Confederate Flag Is Still Flying High
South Carolina should remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds, religious and local elected leaders urged on Monday, after a white gunman last week allegedly shot dead nine black worshippers at a historic Charleston church.

The demand for lawmakers to remove the rallying symbol of the pro-slavery South during the U.S. Civil War follows revelations that 21-year-old Dylann Roof, charged with Wednesday's attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, had posted a racist manifesto on the Internet and posed with the flag.

A group of black and white leaders called for a rally Tuesday at the State House in Columbia to bring their demand directly to lawmakers.

"The time has come to remove this symbol of hate and division from our state capitol," said Reverend Nelson Rivers, pastor of the Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina.

"The time has come for the General Assembly to do what it ought to have done a long time ago, which is to remove this symbol of divisiveness and even terrorism to some," said Rivers, who is black and works with the National Action Network civil-rights group.

24 PHOTOS
Charleston March over Bridge
See Gallery
Activists urge South Carolina capitol to take down rebel flag after massacre
People join hands on Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands of people march on The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina on June 21, 2015. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands of people march on The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina on June 21, 2015. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands of people hold hands to form a human chain on The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina on June 21, 2015. Thousands marched in Charleston where nine African Americans were gunned down, as a chilling website apparently created by the suspected white supremacist shooter emerged. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People pray on Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People observe nine minutes of silence on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People return to Charleston after joining hands across Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People pray as other walk on Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People observe nine minutes of silence on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People greet each other after crossing from opposite ends of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People cross the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. People crossed the Bridge from Mount Pleasant and Charleston to join hands in a unity chain to mourn the 9 victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: People pray together after forming a 'unity chain' across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. The march was organized to commemorate the nine people shot to death last Wednesday at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a 21-year-old white supremacist who claimed to want to start a race war. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
People walk with an American flag as thousands march on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People shake hands and wave American flags as thousands of marchers walk across Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Thousands of marchers chant and sing on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A woman gestures a "peace" sign to passing motorists as thousands march on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People join hands against the backdrop of an American flag as thousands of marchers meet in the middle of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Mt. Pleasant Police Officer Brandon Montano gets high-fives and hugs as thousands of people march across of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Bob Huddleston carries an American flag as thousands of people march to the middle of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
People join hands in a moment of silence as thousands of marchers meet in the middle of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Thousands of people march to the middle of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
People join hands in a moment of silence as thousands of marchers meet on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People join hands in prayer as thousands of marchers meet on Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Opponents of the flag consider it an emblem of slavery and say that it has become a rallying symbol for racism and xenophobia in the United States. Supporters of keeping the flag up say it is a symbol of the South's history and culture.

Roof was arrested on Thursday and charged with nine counts of murder for allegedly gunning down members of a Bible study group at the "Mother Emanuel" church after sitting with them for an hour on Wednesday night.

The attack, in a year in which the United States has been rocked by protests over police killings of unarmed black men, has inflamed a national debate on race relations, policing and the criminal justice system.

President Barack Obama weighed in a podcast posted online on Monday, saying the killings showed the United States still had a long way to go in addressing racism, using an epithet to make his point.

"We're not cured of it," Obama told Mark Maron, host of the "WTF" podcast. "And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists."

24 PHOTOS
First service in Charleston church since shootings
See Gallery
Activists urge South Carolina capitol to take down rebel flag after massacre
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Jimmy Guyton participates at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners cry and embrace as they attend the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: People kneel during a prayer at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Juliett Marsh, of Washington, D.C., listens from the balcony at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: The Rev. Norvel Goff speaks at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners pray as they attend the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners cry and embrace as they attend the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: The Rev. Norvel Goff speaks at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
Ushers come to the assistance of a woman who collapses as she prays at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C., four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of it's pastor and eight others. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners pray as they attend the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners Shakur Francis, left, and Karen Watson-Fleming sing as they attend the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Parishioners sing four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of Pinckney and eight others at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: An organist plays music as parishioners take their seats at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of it's pastor and eight others at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: Church member Kevin Polite, right, helps members into the church four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of it's pastor and eight others at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: The Rev. Norvel Goff, right, prays at the empty seat of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of Pinckney and eight others at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
A bicyclist rides in front of the Emanuel AME Church, Sunday, June 21, 2015, before the first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A palm rose with a message from Orlando, Fla. is placed near the front of the Emanuel AME Church Sunday, June 21, 2015, before the first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Raymond Smith of Charleston kneels in prayer at the front of the Emanuel AME Church before Sunday, June 21, 2015, before the first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Charleston County Sheriffs Deputy C. E. Hall III checks the purse of an elderly woman before she enters the Emanuel AME Church for a worship service, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. Members of the church are returning to their sanctuary today to worship, marking the reopening to the public following a deadly shooting during a Bible study session. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A media satellite dish points to the sky in front of the Emanuel AME Church Sunday, June 21, 2015, before the first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Gillettie Bennett, right, comforts Clarissa Jackson, left, Sunday, June 21, 2015, while she waits in line for Emanuel AME Church's first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Raymond Smith of Charleston uses incense to spiritually cleanse the front of the Emanuel AME Church Sunday, June 21, 2015, before the first worship service since nine people were fatally shot at the church during a Bible study group, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 21: People pay respects outside at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week. (Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

'DOESN'T BELONG'

South Carolina state representative Doug Brannon, a Republican, said in a phone interview he has drafted legislation to remove the flag from the State House grounds.

"It doesn't belong there. It is a symbol of hurt to a large percentage of this state's population. In my opinion, it's an anchor and is holding us back."

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, was set to make remarks at a press conference at 4:00 p.m. (2000 GMT). She will call for the flag to be removed from the State House grounds, the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

"The Confederate battle flag years and years ago was appropriated as a symbol of hate," said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, who is white. "It is a piece of history and it belongs in a history museum."

Riley, who has been the city's mayor for four decades, in 2000 organized a 120-mile (193 km) march from Charleston to the state capital, Columbia, calling for the flag's removal.

The group on Monday spoke in North Charleston, South Carolina, where a former police officer was charged with murdering a black civilian by shooting him in the back after he fled a traffic stop, in an incident captured on video on a bystander's phone.

45 PHOTOS
Charleston, SC shooting - memorials, aftermath
See Gallery
Activists urge South Carolina capitol to take down rebel flag after massacre
Barbara Lloyd, of Charleston, S.C., cries as she joins hands with mourners during the singing of "We Shall Overcome" at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Angela Hines, left, comforts Auburn Sandstrom as she cries while visiting a sidewalk memorial in memory of the shooting victims in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Saturday, June 20, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Dr. Dexter Easley preaches to a crowd gathered outside the Emanuel AME Church during a prayer service by the National Clergy Council, Saturday, June 20, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Clergy from around the country led prayers and words of hope to the people in attendance. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
People que to lay flowers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19, 2015. Police captured the white suspect in a gun massacre at one of the oldest black churches in the United States, the latest deadly assault to feed simmering racial tensions. Police detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during bible study on June 17. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People que to lay flowers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19, 2015. Police captured the white suspect in a gun massacre at one of the oldest black churches in the United States, the latest deadly assault to feed simmering racial tensions. Police detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during bible study on June 17. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Barbara Lloyd, of Charleston, S.C., cries during the singing of "We Shall Overcome" at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People attend a vigil at TD Arena for victims of the recent church shooting June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. For someone reportedly bent on igniting a race war, Dylann Storm Roof had little to say for himself in the first of what will be many court appearances. The 21-year-old suspect in Wednesday night's massacre at an African-American church Bible study class spoke only to answer a judge's questions at a 14-minute bail hearing. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is accused of killing nine people during a Wednesday night Bible study at the church. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Gary and Aurelia Washington, center left and right, the son and granddaughter of Ethel Lance who died in Wednesday's shooting, leave a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church comforted by fellow family members Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 19: (L-R) Sisters Margaret Kerry, Mary Thecla and Kathleen Lang of the Order of the Daughters of St. Paul pray outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the death penalty for Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, if he is found guilty of murdering nine people during a prayer meeting at the church Wednesday night. Among the dead is the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the church which, according to the National Park Service, is the oldest black congregation in America south of Baltimore. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A group of women pray together at a make-shift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church, Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Olina Ortega, left, and Austin Gibbs light candles at a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church where people were killed by a white gunman Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Olina Ortega, left, and Austin Gibbs light candles at a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church where people were killed by a white gunman Wednesday during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Rev. Sandy Drayton sheds a tear during a prayer vigil held at Morris Brown AME Church for the victims of Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church on Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people, including the pastor at a prayer meeting inside the historic black church.(Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)
State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) gets emtional as he sits next to the draped desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed, Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
A man leans against a light pole as he visits a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, pauses while speaking in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015, on the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., prior to his departure to Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 18: South Carolina State Senator Joel Lourie (L) comforts Gerald Malloy in the senate chambers June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Legislators gathered Thursday morning to honor their co-worker Clementa Pinckney and the eight others killed yesterday at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Charleston police Lt. S. Siprko removes flowers from the backseat of a patrol car, Thursday, June 18, 2015 to a makeshift memorial in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, spent nearly an hour inside the church Wednesday night before killing six women and three men, then tried to outrun an all-night manhunt before a citizen in the next state spotted his car and tipped police, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A unidentified man touches the Emanuel AME Church after placing flowers at a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk in Charleston, S.C., following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured without resistance in North Carolina Thursday after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Tyler Francis, right, and Shondrey Dear pray together, Thursday, June 18, 2015 at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was captured without resistance in North Carolina Thursday after an all-night manhunt, Charleston's police chief Greg Mullen said. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A man holds up a sign after a vigil outside Morris Brown AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
An emotional Senate staffer Travis Norton, right, joins other staff members and members of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015, during a vigil to mourn the shooting victims of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
People sit on the steps of Morris Brown AME Church while services are held June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People say a prayer outside Morris Brown AME Church during a vigil June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People sing 'We Shall Overcome' during a service at Morris Brown AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner has her bag checked by a sheriff's deputy before entering a prayer vigil at Morris Brown AME Church for the people killed Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of the Senate walk to the chambers before a session, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was killed, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in a shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
The desk of S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney is draped in black cloth with a single rose and vase in an empty chamber prior to a Senate session, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was killed, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in a shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sandra Bridges lays a greeting card at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Kim Hamby, right, prays with her daughter Kayla 4, as they lay flowers at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church killing several people in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Noah Nicolaisen, of Charleston, S.C., kneels at a makeshift memorial down the street from where a white man opened fire Wednesday night during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church killing several people in Charleston, Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this image taken from video on Thursday, June 18, 2015, Tarsha Moseley, left, Martha Watson, and Toby Smith pray at a makeshift memorial near Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church Wednesday night, killing several people. The shooter remained at large Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
In this image taken from video on Thursday, June 18, 2015, Martha Watson, left, and Tarsha Moseley embrace at a makeshift memorial near Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church Wednesday night, killing several people. The shooter remained at large Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (C), R-California, prays with Senator Chris Coons (6th L), D-Deleware, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (5th L), D-Texas, Senator Chuck Grassley (4th L), R-Iowa, and Congressman Joe Wilson (3rd L), R-South Carolina, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks about the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, from the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People visit a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (C), R-California, prays with Senator Chris Coons (2nd L), D-Deleware, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (L), D-Texas, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
People visit a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman prays at a makeshift memorial near the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chaplain James St. John, center, leads senators in prayer, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
US Congressman Jeff Denham (R), R-California, holds hands with Senator Chris Coons (2nd R), D-Deleware, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (C), D-Texas, as they stand with Senator Chuck Grassley (2nd L), R-Iowa, and Congressman Joe Wilson (L), R-South Carolina, in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015, during a moment of silence for the nine killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Members of the US House ofÊRepresentatives and members of the US Senate and staff gather in a prayer circle in front of the US Capitol to honor those gunned down last night inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina, June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Police have arrestedÊDylann Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina in the shooting that killed 9 people. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Several speakers said the flag's presence at the state's capitol sent an unappealing message about South Carolina to the rest of the world and that taking the flag down would be only a small first step toward smoothing relations in the state.

"Ridding the flag from the front of the State House is a start," said state Senator Marlon Kimpson, who is black. "But let me underscore this: It will not solve the racial divide in South Carolina."

Outside the church, visitors continued to stop to remember the slain, among them Melvin Wright, 42, who said he supported the call to remove the flag.

"It symbolizes hatred to me," said Wright, a Charleston native.

(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)

Read Full Story

People are Reading