Democratic 2016 candidates call for removal of Confederate flag from Citadel

Last Updated Dec 11, 2015 3:56 PM EST

Hillary Clinton called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Citadel, a public military university in Charleston, South Carolina, in a tweet.

She was responding to the announcement of the suspension of eight Citadel cadets -- seven of whom were photographed with pillowcases over their heads in a way that resembled Ku Klux Klan robes.

Bernie Sanders called the photos "repugnant" in his tweet and also called for the flag's removal.

Martin O'Malley's South Carolina campaign also called on the Citadel to take the flag down.

The Citadel, which is publicly funded, displays a Confederate Naval Jack flag -- which is a variant of the Confederate battle flag -- in its chapel, and some had already called for its removal earlier this year.

After the mass shooting of nine people at a black church in North Charleston, photos emerged of the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, which showed him holding the Confederate flag. Soon after the shooting, the school's Board of Visitors voted 9-3 to remove the flag, but it still hangs in the chapel under the state's Heritage Act. That act decrees that any monuments or markers "in honor of the Confederacy or the civil rights movement located on any municipal, county or state property shall not be removed, changed or renamed" without a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

Although South Carolina legislators voted in July to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol grounds, according to the Post and Courier, legislators "have refused to take action on other controversial symbols."