A massive crowd gathered at the South Carolina state house grounds Friday to witness the removal of the Confederate flag after weeks of debate in the wake of the massacre of nine people at a historic black church. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, frequently posed with the flag and included it in an apparent manifesto.
People chanted "take it down" and "U.S.A." while they waited for the ceremony to begin. As guards removed the flag, the crowd sang Steam's "na na, hey hey, goodbye."
The Confederate flag was raised on the state house dome in 1962 in response to the civil rights movement. Despite protests, it remained until 2000, when it was moved to a pole next to the Confederate monument.
After honor guards removed it, it was placed in the Relic Room at the South Carolina State Museum, which houses other important artifacts from the state's history.
Relatives of the nine people that died in June when a shooter opened fire in Charleston's Emanuel AME church stood on the steps of state house during the ceremony. Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill authorizing the flag's removal on Thursday.
Haley signed the measure into law hours after the bill was approved by South Carolina's House of Representatives, noting the weeks of grief the state has faced since a gunman killed nine people at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.
“Twenty-two days ago, I didn’t know that I would ever be able to say this again,” Haley said. “But today I’m very proud to say that it is a great day in South Carolina.”
Haley used 13 different pens to sign the bill, and said she will give one to each of the families of the Emanuel church victims, according to WCSC.