In wake of Charleston shooting, Confederate flag debate renewed

The Confederate flag has returned to the forefront of controversy in the wake of the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C.

CBS News

In Charleston, people were expected to gather Sunday evening on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to hold hands in solidarity.

The bridge is named after a former state lawmaker and outspoken supporter of the Confederate battle flag.

There is a renewed controversy over that flag.

1,500 protesters gathered at South Carolina's statehouse yesterday, where the Confederate flag flies high.

For many, the flag represents hate and intolerance.

Intolerance that drove Dylann Roof, 21, to allegedly gun down nine people simply because of their race.

NAACP Head: Confederate flag must come down 07:01

But it will take a two-thirds vote by the state legislature to remove the flag. This weekend, two Republican state senators said they will introduce bills to do just that.

But to some, the flag is a historic symbol that commemorates fallen soldiers from the Civil War.

"I had 57 Confederate relatives fight in the war. Sixteen of them didn't come home. Sixteen came home missing an arm or leg," said Randy Burbage, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "That's what this flag is about to us."

Since Wednesday's shooting, anger has grown against symbols of the Confederacy. Saturday night, a Confederate memorial in Charleston was spray painted with the words "Black Lives Matter" and today protesters burned Confederate flags.

This isn't the first time that the Confederate flag on state grounds has been brought up as an issue.

"In the year 2000, under tremendous pressure, the state legislature agreed to take it down from the dome, where it had been and to place it behind the Confederate monument," said Don Doyle, who teaches U.S. history at the University of South Carolina.

He says the flag was first added to the 160-year-old capitol in 1962 in response to the Civil Rights Movement.

On Friday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham defended his state.

"It works here, that's what the statehouse agreed to do," he said.

But yesterday, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted:

President Obama replied:

But South Carolina governor Nikki Haley told CBS This Morning that now is not the time to focus on a flag. "My job is to heal the people of the state and I'm not gonna start taking political calls at this point."

The Confederate flag was a relatively recent addition to the 160-year-old capitol. It was first displayed here in 1961, 100 years after the start of the Civil War, and incidentally during the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.