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Illinois House resolution asks South Carolina legislators to remove Confederate flag

The Illinois House on Monday joined calls for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its state capitol in the wake of the massacre of nine people at a historic black church.

The young white man charged in the slayings embraced that flag as a symbol of white supremacy.

A resolution introduced Monday by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, urges South Carolina’s Legislature to replace the Confederate flag flying in that state capitol with the U.S. flag.

“Events connected with this tragedy have raised questions about the so-called ‘Battle Flag of the Confederacy’ as a suitable element in public displays of honor … Many feel that this flag has become offensive and should no longer be a symbol on state property,” states House Bill 604, which has strong bipartisan support.

“Whereas, the members of this body suggest that the correct flag for the people of South Carolina to fly when honoring their heritage is the flag of the United States of America; We call upon the South Carolina General Assembly to take statutory action to remove any examples of the ‘Battle Flag of the Confederacy’ from the grounds of the South Carolina State House, including the Confederate Monument,” the resolution concludes.

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If passed, the resolution, which quotes Abraham Lincoln, would be forwarded to that state’s General Assembly and to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who on Monday reversed her position on the divisive symbol amid growing calls nationwide for it to be removed.

In an about-face, the Republican governor said the Confederate flag should be removed from the state capitol in Columbia, where it flies over the Confederate Monument, a war memorial sacred to many southern whites who refuse to give up the symbol of oppression.

On June 17, authorities say, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, walked into Emanuel AME Church — the oldest church in the South — allegedly sat with worshippers for an hour during a midweek Bible study session, then started shooting.

Images accompanying what appear to be his manifesto have since surfaced of Roof holding a Confederate flag, proudly displaying it on his license plate, or burning the American flag.

“I think coming from the land of Lincoln that we should respectfully send a message to our fellow legislators that their Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and should come down,” said McSweeney, whose resolution, co-sponsored by three Democrats and a Republican, had 25 bipartisan sponsors and growing Monday afternoon.

“It belongs in a museum, not on the grounds of the state capitol. It’s an offensive image. People can still analyze and look at their heritage, but in a museum, not on state grounds,” McSweeney said. “I’d like to see it come down anywhere it flies on state grounds, not just in South Carolina.”

His museum comments echoed the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s Rev. Jesse Jackson, who also called for the Confederate symbol’s removal on Monday.

“We can no longer tolerate that symbol,” Jackson said. “The South African symbol of Apartheid no longer flies in South Africa. The Nazi flag no longer flies in Germany. It’s inappropriate and should be in a museum.”