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Confederate flags removed from Alabama Capitol

Gov. Robert Bentley has ordered that the four confederate flags that have flown on the state Capitol grounds be taken down.

State workers removed the flags, which flew at each corner of an 88-foot-tall Alabama Confederate Monument beside the Alabama Capitol, Wednesday morning.

“It has become a distraction all over the country right now,” Bentley said. “Off and on, it has always been a distraction. In Alabama, this is part of our history and we need to honor that, but it’s offensive to some people because unfortunately it’s like the swastika. Some people have adopted that as part of their maybe hate-filled groups and that’s a shame.”

Bentley issued the order for the removal of the flags late Tuesday.

The decision has been met with both criticism and praise.

“I am proud that the governor took the flag down from the Capitol grounds. That flag is a symbol of white supremacy,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, who represents Butler County.

Bentley has said that his decision was influenced in part by the recent events in Charleston, S.C. A 21-year-old white man gunned down nine people at a historic African American church.

Authorities have said the shooting was a hate crime and it is believed that the shooter, Dylann Roof, may have been linked to a white supremacist group. There are images that show Roof holding the Confederate battle flag.

Many argue that is not reason enough to remove the flags from the Alabama Capitol grounds.

Betty Dantzler acknowledged that the flag has been used as a symbol or racism, but feels it should remain on the Capitol grounds because the Confederacy is a part of the state’s history.

“I realize that some people have used it before as a symbol of racism and no it is not right, but … this is a heart issue,” she posted on the Greenville Advocate Facebook page. “Some people just have an evil spirit. The devil is real and he will control those who allow him in, and they will do evil in the name of ‘racism’ to start wars and rumors of wars. The flag is a symbol of southern heritage — that’s it. Saying that taking the flag down so it doesn’t offend people will do as much good as standing and watching a child be beaten and not saying anything because you’re afraid to offend anyone by getting into their business.”

Catherine Earley Odom Darnell said removing the flags isn’t going to change history.

“This is part of history,” she posted on the Greenville Advocate Facebook page. “Are they going to change the history books to keep people from ‘dwelling’ on things that will cause them to kill? The shooting at the church was terrible, but we need to place the blame where it is due and not on history and the flag.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has also called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state Capitol.

“The murderer, now locked up in Charleston, said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening,” Haley said. “My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven.”

The Confederate flag used to fly over the Alabama Capitol following a 1963 order from former Gov. George C. Wallace during a fight with the federal government over ending school segregation. It was removed in the early 1990s.