COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) –South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsey Graham will address the public Monday afternoon amid growing calls for the state to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House.
Graham will call for the removal of the flag at a 4 p.m. alongside Haley, a Republican and the state’s first non-white governor, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.
Graham’s decision to take the lead on calling for the flag’s removal comes amid a fast-moving debate over the Confederate flag that was reignited by the deadly, racially-motivated shooting that killed nine African-Americans last week — a debate that is returning to the upper echelons of South Carolina politics.
And just as local officials and civil rights activists have ratcheted up their calls to remove the flag, Graham in the past few days has been quietly urging fellow South Carolina politicians to take action, the source close to Graham told CNN.
“We cannot have the Confederate flag waving on the grounds of the state capitol,” NAACP president and South Carolina native Cornell William Brooks said Friday during a press conference. “That symbol has to come down. That symbol must be removed from our state capitol.”
Haley press secretary Chaney Adams confirmed in an email that Haley will deliver remarks at 4 p.m., but would not confirm reports that Haley will also call for the flag’s removal from the State capitol. Local news outlets and a South Carolina politics blog reported Monday morning that Haley will call for the removal of the flag during the 4 p.m. news conference.
The debate took new meaning after images surfaced online of white supremacist and avowed church shooter Dylan Roof holding a Confederate flag and a gun. Roof, 21, confessed to law enforcement that he carried out the killing, telling them he wanted to start a “race war.”
Haley has previously rebuffed efforts to remove the flag from the grounds of the state legislature and has spoken out in support of the compromise in 2000 that saw the confederate flag removed from the top of the state capital dome and moved to a memorial to Confederate soldiers just a few hundred feet away.
And Graham last week said in an interview with CNN that the Confederate flag is “part of who we are,” but said South Carolina needed to make sure that the 2000 compromise “works here.
Haley’s office would not preview her address this afternoon, instead telling reporters to stay tuned.