S Carolina House Debates Confederate Flag Removal

The South Carolina House is holding a marathon debate on a bill that would remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds.

During a heated session that continued into the night, dozens of amendments by Republicans aimed at slowing down passage of the bill were rejected.

Governor Nikki Haley earlier urged fellow Republicans to remove the flag.

The backlash against the emblem grew when a gunman killed nine people at a Charleston church last month.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old charged with the killings, was pictured flying the flag.

It was originally the battle flag of the southern states in the American Civil War when they tried to break away.

The flag is seen by some as an icon of slavery and racism while others say it symbolises US heritage and history.

Some of the amendments focused on replacing the flag with other less contentious symbols of Confederacy. Another proposed having voters decide whether the flag should come down.

Correspondents say some amendments appeared designed to make political points, such as a plan to fly the US flag upside down over the capitol or a proposal to remove all monuments and memorials from the capitol building.

One Republican proposed replacing the flag with a white flag of surrender, to symbolise his party’s stance.

“I don’t have a picture, but it would look like this,” Christopher Corley told the chamber, waving a small white flag.

Another representative submitted 54 amendments.

The bill was overwhelmingly passed by the state senate on Tuesday. If the house approves it, it will go to the governor to be signed into law.

Since the church killings, a number of other US states have taken action to remove flags from state property.

And large nationwide retailers have cleared their shelves of items bearing the emblem.

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