South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill Thursday to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. The flag is set to come down Friday morning.
The swift action to remove the Confederate battle flag came less than a month after nine black churchgoers were slain in a shooting massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. The church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among the victims of the shooting.“Twenty-two days ago, I didn’t know I would ever be able to say this again. I am very proud to say it is a great day in South Carolina,” Haley said, adding that the nine victims “forever changed South Carolina’s history.”
The South Carolina House of Representatives voted early Thursday to remove the flag after a marathon debate session. A Republican lawmaker attempted to hold up the legislation by attaching dozens of amendments, but the House ultimately voted 94-20 to remove the battle flag. The state Senate approved legislation Tuesday to take down the flag.
Haley said nine of the pens she used to sign the bill will be given to the families of the nine victims.
“Nine people took in someone who did not look like them or act like them. And with true love, and true faith and true acceptance, they sat and prayed with him for an hour. That love and faith was so strong that it brought grace to their families,” Haley said. “It showed them how to forgive. “
Dylann Roof, the confessed gunman in the shooting, was indicted this week on nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one gun charge. Roof, an avowed white supremacist, had appeared in photos with the Confederate flag. In the wake of the shooting, lawmakers in South Carolina and elsewhere have renounced the flag, which is seen by many as an enduring symbol of racism.
Msnbc’s Joy-Ann Reid and NBC News’ Richie Duchon contributed.