A crowd of thousands gathered Friday among security officers and news crews to witness the historic removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds — a day many in the state thought would never come. The state planned a simple, short ceremony at 10 a.m. to quickly and quietly remove the rebel banner, which was surrounded in its final hours by ropes and barricades. Authorities said a Highway Patrol honor guard would take down the flag but didn’t give other details.
Outside the Capitol, people who supported removing the flag — many chanting “take it down” — vastly outnumbered those who were upset about the move. “It feels so good to be out here and be happy about it,” said Ronald D. Barton, 52, a pastor who also was at the ceremony in 2000, when the flag was moved from its place flying atop the Capitol dome to its current flagpole.
After the flag’s removal, a special van used to transport historical artifacts will take it to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, about a mile away. There, it eventually will be housed in a multimillion-dollar shrine lawmakers promised to build as part of a compromise to get the bill ordering the flag’s removal through the House.