By Robert Kittle
Gov. Nikki Haley says she was feeling a wide range of emotions as the Confederate flag was removed from Statehouse grounds Friday morning.
“It was pride. It was pain, thinking about the families. It was hoping that they had some peace. But overall I just felt like a huge weight was lifted off of the state,” she says.
She sat down with us to talk about the removal of the Confederate flag and how we got to that point. Many of you wonder why she and others called for the flag to be taken down for good after nine people were murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last month, including pastor Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
She says, “The pain. You know, it’s the pain of, the reality of the pain that people felt with that flag and, you know, even though I had thought it, the next day when the images came up with him wrapped around it or holding it up with pride, I knew that the pain that people were feeling was going to be escalated to a whole new level.”
Flag supporters are angry and are criticizing her heavily on social media. We asked what she would say to them, and she said, “I’m sorry they feel betrayed. I really am, because I do want to do everything I can to allow them to respect that flag and I don’t think that they hate and I don’t think that they’re racists. I think we’re always going to have some extremists, but I think people in South Carolina are generally good.”
She said state lawmakers deserve great, great praise for acting so quickly to remove the flag, but says none of this would have happened if it had not been for the way the victims’ families showed forgiveness and grace.
“That forgiveness was so overwhelming that the people of South Carolina showed a compassion like we’ve never seen anywhere,” she says. “That compassion was so moving that it motivated people to act and that action was so swift because the commitment of people to know that this is the right time to start moving in the right direction brought this flag down today. Those actions will down in the history books.”