In this June 19, 2015 file photo, the Confederate flag flies near the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. (AP photo)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs a bill into law as former South Carolina governors and officials look on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. (AP photo)
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) -
South Carolina's governor has signed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, more than 50 years after it was raised in protest of the civil rights movement.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill Thursday on the second floor of the Statehouse where, through a window, the secessionist battle flag was visible outside. She was surrounded by the family members of those killed in the church shooting last month.
The law requires the flag to be removed and placed in the state's Confederate Relic Room. Haley says it will come down at 10 a.m. Friday.
The push to bring down the flag began after state Sen. Clementa Pinckney and eight other people were gunned down during their Bible study inside a historic black church. Police said it was racially motivated, and photographs emerged showing the suspect posing with Confederate flags.
Haley is giving the pens she used to sign the bill to bring down the Confederate flag to the nine families of the victims of the church massacre.
She also gave pens to former South Carolina Govs. Jim Hodges and David Beasley.
Beasley, a Republican, proposed moving the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome in 1996, and it ultimately cost him re-election to Hodges.
"One person started this almost two decades ago, and that was Gov. David Beasley. And the last time I saw him, I said, 'You started it,' and he said, 'Well, I need you to finish it."
She gave a pen to Hodges, a Democrat, saying he worked very hard to help bring the flag off the dome in 2000.
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