Charleston political, religious leaders call for removal of Confederate flag from Statehouse

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Under intense pressure from civil rights groups, including the NAACP, state officials removed the Confederate flag from the capitol dome and placed it next to this statue of a Confederate soldier on the Statehouse grounds. (Getty Images.)

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — A group of Charleston-area political and religious leaders are calling on state lawmakers to vote this week to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capital grounds.

Officials including Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and Democratic state Sen. Marlon Kimpson in North Charleston on Monday called on legislators to stay in session and vote as early as Tuesday to take down the flag from its place in front of the statehouse in Columbia.

The Rev. Nelson B Rivers III of the National Action Network said the flag should be removed before the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney lies in state at the Statehouse on Wednesday. Pinckney and eight other church members were shot to death last week as they attended Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.

Kimpson says he’s informed state Senate leaders that there is a “growing chorus” of members interested in taking up a debate while lawmakers are in session to discuss the budget.

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