South Carolina Takes Step Towards Removing Confederate Flag With Senate Vote

Marks one in a chain of significant votes that has to happen to remove it.

A step has been taken toward removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol grounds with the Senate voting in favor of its removal.

The flag isn't coming down quite yet, however, as the bill now has to go to the state's House of Representatives for more debate and approval, before it then is sent back to the Senate.

Many state representatives made their opinions about the flag known, with repeated references to the shooting in a Charleston church that left nine dead, which renewed calls for the flag's removal.

State Sen. Larry Martin said that race relations in South Carolina have improved since he was in fourth grade and schools were integrated.

"[The] flag is part of our history, not our future," he said, noting that it "does not represent all of the people of South Carolina."

Removing the flag would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers under the terms of the 2000 deal that moved a version of the flag from the top of the Statehouse dome to an area on the grounds that has a monument to Confederate soldiers, according to the Associated Press.

The local paper, The Post and Courier, the South Carolina Press Association and the Associated Press surveyed lawmakers and found that the necessary two-thirds needed to vote to remove the flag have spoken out in favor of its removal.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has already publicly stated that she wants the flag removed, and while she has no legislative power to do so, her support for the removal has helped push the issue forward.

Supporters of both sides of the cause have been demonstrating at the capitol in Columbia in recent weeks, ever since the man who allegedly shot and killed nine people in a historic black church in Charleston was found to have pictures of himself with the Confederate flag.

On June 27, one woman took the matter into her own hands and scaled the flag pole and removed the flag, only to be arrested and have the flag put back up.

The woman, Bree Newsome, faces a $5,000 fine and up to three years in prison if convicted of defacing a monument but social media supporters have already raised more than $125,000 for her.