McConnell: Time for South Carolina to fly Confederate flag 'long - WDRB 41 Louisville News

McConnell: Time for South Carolina to fly Confederate flag 'long since passed'

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A WDRB file photo of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell from February 2015. A WDRB file photo of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell from February 2015.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB/AP) -- As several state leaders in South Carolina call for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to be agreeing with them.

“The Confederate Battle Flag means different things to different people," McConnell said in a statement, "but the fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests to me at least that it's time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed. There should be no confusion in anyone's mind that as a people we're united in our determination to put that part of our history behind us.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says the Confederate flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds, reversing her position on the divisive symbol.

The Republican's about-face Monday comes after a young white man who embraced the flag as a symbol of white supremacy was charged with murder in the deaths of nine black church members. The flag has flown in front of the state Capitol for 15 years after being moved from atop the Statehouse dome.

Haley was surrounded by Republicans and Democrats alike and received a loud applause and cheering when she made her announcement.

Haley said: "One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come."

The suspect in the church shootings, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was photographed earlier holding Confederate flags. Police say he made racial insults at the church members during the shooting.

Supporters of the flag say it is a memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers, but opponents say it's a symbol of hate put atop the Statehouse dome to protest the civil rights movement.

A person familiar with Republican Sen. Tim Scott's decision says he is calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.

Scott, of South Carolina, is the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction. He joins a growing number of calls for the flag to come down after a gunman opened fire in a historic black church, killing nine people.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Police say a young white man is responsible for the racially motivated attack at the church in Charleston.

Copyright 2015 WDRB/The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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