Confederate flags removed from Capitol

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The flags of the Confederacy no longer fly over the Capitol in Alabama, after Gov. Robert Bentley ordered them removed today.

The Confederate battle flag which stood at the foot of the confederate memorial on the state Capitol grounds was removed shortly after 8 a.m. today. Later, workers also removed the remaining three Civil War era flags were removed –  the First National Confederate Flag, commonly preferred to as the “Stars and Bars;” the Second National Confederate Flag, more commonly known as the “Stainless Banner;” and the Third National Confederate Flag.

When Bentley emerged from the Capitol later, he confirmed for reporters that he ordered the flags removed. Flying the Confederate battle flag, in particular, has come into question again in the past week after a lone gunman killed nine people  at a prayer meeting at an African American church in Charleston.

“Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do.,” the governor told reporters.

“We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with,” he said. “This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”

The governor said that before he made the final decision he checked to see if there were any impediments in the law or state policy that would prevent him from taking down the flag and found none, so he acted.

The governor was referring to the state’s General Fund budget. Earlier this year, Bentley vetoed the legislature’s budget, which included severe cuts. A tax reform package proposed by the governor before the 2015 regular session started was never seriously considered by the legislature, which considered gambling and a loan from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians as means for balancing the budget. Bentley is expected to call legislators back into session in August.