Latest on church shooting: Marchers gather in Charleston

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 12:50 AM
Latest on church shooting: Marchers gather in Charleston

11 p.m.

Approximately 200 people, including members of the New Black Panther party, staged a march and rally in front of the Charleston, South Carolina, church where nine people attending a Bible study were shot to death last week.

The march began at Marion Square and reached Emanuel AME Church about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. Protesters chanted "Black power!" and other slogans as police kept watch nearby.

Among the marchers was Hashim Nzinga, national chairman of the New Black Panther party.

Most of the mourners who were placing flowers at the church and others on the sidewalk appeared to ignore the marchers, who spent about 20 minutes at the church before moving down the street.

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10:15 p.m.

The Citadel has voted to move the Confederate Naval Jack flag from an on-campus chapel to another location on campus.

Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa said in a statement Tuesday that the military school's Board of Visitors voted 9-3 in favor of moving the flag from Summerall Chapel to what was called "an appropriate location on campus."

Rosa said the move will require an amendment to the Heritage Act by the South Carolina legislature.

In his statement, Rosa said one of the victims of a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston last week was a Citadel alumnus, while six of the school's employees lost family members in the shooting.

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10 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't seeking to have the Confederate battle flag stripped from a Louisiana-issued license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

While governors in some Southern states are suggesting redesigns or an outright end to the issuance of similar specialty plates, Jindal didn't join them Tuesday.

The Republican governor, expected to announce his presidential bid Wednesday, said in a statement: "Certainly it's possible that the Legislature will look at this issue next time they are in session. But the bottom line is that states need to decide these issues."

Louisiana has issued 160 specialty plates with the Confederate battle flag, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Calls for removing the flag from license plates come after the mass shootings at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

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8:45 p.m.

The U.S. House of Representatives has observed a moment of silence for the victims of last week's mass church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Led by Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, in whose district the killings occurred, lawmakers paused between votes to remember the slayings. Sanford said the nine victims were slain by "a young man with incomprehensible malice."

Sanford acknowledged the expressions of forgiveness that relatives of the shooting victims offered to suspect Dylann Storm Roof, saying the surviving family members "have shown a whole lot of heart and a whole lot of love."

Sanford then read the names of the nine victims. He spoke from the front of the House chamber, alongside three dozen South Carolina representatives, black lawmakers and others.

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6:30 p.m.

The Charleston City Council has unanimously passed a temporary ordinance that bans protests or picketing at funerals in advance of services this week for the nine people slain at a historic black church.

The ordinance passed Tuesday evening states that no one may protest or picket within 300 feet of a church or other building holding a funeral, memorial or burial for one hour before and one hour after the service.

Mayor Joe Riley said at the meeting that police recommended the ordinance after receiving information that a group may want to protest at one of the funerals.

Police Chief Gregory Mullen declined to say what group or groups may want to protest. He said the information about protests wasn't related to the Confederate flag debate.

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6 p.m.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will lead the bipartisan congressional delegation traveling to South Carolina on Friday for the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

"The people's House continues to keep the people of Charleston in our prayers as they mourn such senseless loss," Boehner said in a statement on Tuesday.

Pinckney was one of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church fatally shot last Wednesday during a Bible study.

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5:45 p.m.

Gov. Bill Haslam says he supports removing the bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol.

The Republican governor told reporters on Tuesday that if he's picking which Tennesseans to honor, "that would not be one of the Tennesseans I would honor."

Haslam says he also supports removing the Confederate flag from license plates and specialty plates in Tennessee.

Haslam's comments follow news media reports that a couple of Metro Nashville Council members are seeking to cover up a private statue of Forrest that sits along the Interstate 65 corridor.

The moves from state and local lawmakers come days after nine people were gunned down in a historic black church in South Carolina, prompting a debate over Confederate symbols.

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3:50 p.m.

A South Carolina senator has proposed a bill that would move the Confederate flag from the Statehouse to a relic room in a museum.

Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen introduced the bill Tuesday. It would move the flag from a 30-foot pole in front of the Statehouse to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.

Sheheen's introduction came after lawmakers overwhelmingly agreed to take the first step to debating the flag, which will likely occur later this summer.

Sheheen made the proposal after nine black church members were killed in Charleston in what police say was a racially motivated attack by a young white man. The suspected gunman was photographed holding a Confederate flag in a purported manifesto.

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3 p.m.

Only one South Carolina senator stood up to speak against extending a special legislative session to debate removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.

Sen. Danny Verdin's voice broke as he remembered his friend, slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was the pastor of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church at the time of the rampage.

Verdin, a Republican, didn't give a reason for his opposition beyond saying he talked to his constituents and others. Verdin said he hopes "we continue to embrace each other in disagreement."

Another senator who is expected to vote against moving the flag also spoke briefly, but didn't mention his opposition. Sen. Lee Bright, a Republican, said he was taken aback by the forgiveness offered by several families of the victims at the bond hearing for the suspect.

The Senate approved extending the session by a voice vote. The House earlier approved it 103-10. The flag will likely be debated in a couple of weeks.

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2:40 p.m.

An Alabama lawmaker says the state should remove Confederate flags from the Alabama Capitol grounds.

The remarks from Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery on Tuesday come in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and amid a growing chorus of voices to remove the flags and other Confederate symbols from that state and others in the South.

Holmes says he will file a legislative resolution to remove the flags from the Capitol grounds. The flags surround an 88-foot tall Alabama Confederate Monument that was erected in 1898.

Holmes says the flags are offensive and have no place at a public building.

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2:30 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina thanked the senators who have reached out to him after the killings in Charleston last week.

Emerging from the weekly Republican luncheon Tuesday, Scott also praised the family members of the nine victims who spoke of forgiveness during Friday's court session with Dylann Storm Roof, who faces murder charges in the massacre.

"I am thankful that I live in a country where forgiveness can be seen."

Tim Scott is a Republican who appeared with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday when she announced that she believes it's time for the Confederate flag flying on the Statehouse grounds to come down.

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2:15 p.m.

Vandals have again defaced the statue of Jefferson Davis at the University of Texas as another push is underway to remove it from the Austin campus.

Campus security spokeswoman Cindy Posey says "Black lives matter" was scrawled early Tuesday on the base of the statue to the president of the Confederacy, and also on those for Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Johnston.

"Bump all the chumps" also was sprayed below the Davis statue.

This is at least the fourth time over the years that the Davis statue has been defaced. The latest comes following the slaying of nine parishioners at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Meanwhile, in Texas, an online petition recently was launched to have the Davis statue removed from campus.

But Davis' great-great grandson, Bertram Hayes-Davis, says his ancestor was a statesman with a broad list of accomplishments who's being unfairly demonized.

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2 p.m.

The South Carolina House has approved a measure that allows lawmakers to consider removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.

The lawmakers are in a special session Tuesday to pass a state budget, but they took the extraordinary step to allow the flag debate after nine black church members were killed last week in Charleston.

Legislators will pass a state budget and when they return to consider Gov. Nikki Haley's budget vetoes, they will take up the flag issue. That could be in a couple of weeks.

The House held a moment of silence for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, who was killed in the attack.

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1:40 p.m.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says the massacre in Charleston and other killings around the country demand action.

It's highly unlikely, however, that Congress will move on gun control.

In a speech on the Senate floor, he said: "We can expand gun background checks and prevent the mentally ill and criminal from buying guns. Is that asking too much?"

After the 2012 killing of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate failed to strengthen background checks.

Now, the odds of any congressional action on gun control are even longer with both the House and Senate dominated by Republicans, who traditionally have been less sympathetic to curbs on gun ownership.

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1:35 p.m.

The only Republican to speak at Tuesday's rally outside the South Carolina Statehouse to bring down the Confederate flag asked supporters to be respectful of all views.

Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort serves a district that adjoined slain Sen. Clementa Pinckney's district at the southern end of South Carolina. They serve vastly different populations — Davis' district is full of affluent retirees living near the beach, while the Democrat Pinckney's district was poor and majority black, inland from the expensive homes and resorts.

Davis said they became friends. Pinckney reached out to Davis when he arrived at the Senate in 2009.

Davis recalled Pinckney saying: "It's important for you to have a core set of beliefs. But it is also important for you to look through somebody else's eyes, to stand in their shoes."

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1:15 p.m.

Mississippi's lieutenant governor says voters, not lawmakers, should decide whether to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.

Tuesday's statement by Republican Tate Reeves came a day after Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn called the emblem offensive and said the state flag should change.

Mississippi voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin in 2001 to keep the flag that has been used since 1894, with the Confederate symbol in one corner.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he supports those election results.

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1:05 p.m.

Kentucky's Republican nominee for governor says the state should remove a statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol rotunda.

Matt Bevin said Tuesday that he applauded South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for asking lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds after the shooting deaths of nine people at a black Charleston church last week.

Bevin says it would be equally appropriate for Kentucky to remove the statue of Davis, the only president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Democratic nominee Jack Conway says he also agrees with Haley's remarks on the South Carolina flag but that he would have to think about whether he would support removing the statue.

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12:20 p.m.

A second historic monument in downtown Charleston has been vandalized as calls grow to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse.

The words "racist" and "slavery" were spray-painted on a monument to John C. Calhoun, just a block from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. That's where nine black church members were killed in what police say was a racially motived attack by a white man.

Calhoun was a vice president, U.S. senator and congressman from South Carolina. He argued that slavery was not evil, but a positive good. He died in 1850, a decade before the Civil War.

Police said an officer found the vandalism while on patrol around Tuesday.

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11:20 a.m.

Several hundred people are at a Confederate flag rally in front of the South Carolina Statehouse, urging legislators to remove the flag.

People chanted "Bring it down! Bring it down!" as the rally got started. One of the people there was Tom Clements, who says he loved the flag when he studied about his family's history as a teenager, but then he grew up.

Clements, born in Savannah, Georgia, had a poster of photos about his great-great grandfather who fought for the Confederacy and three great-great uncles who died for the South.

For years, he wouldn't talk publicly about his ancestors even though he was quite proud of what they did.

"The racists took over the memories of the Confederacy," said Clements. "I didn't feel right feeling like I was with them."

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11 a.m.

The interim leader at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is applauding calls to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds.

However, the Rev. Norvel Goff says the historic church's focus will stay on the "homegoing celebrations" of the nine people killed inside, including slain senior pastor Clementa Pinckney.

Dylann Storm Roof, who has appeared in photos holding Confederate flags, is charged with the murders.

Goff says it is time for the Confederate flag to come down "because of what it represented." But the loss of Pinckney and the others is foremost for the church right now.

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10:30 a.m.

Virginia's governor is moving to have the Confederate flag banished from state license plates.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the decision Tuesday, citing the killings at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said states can restrict license plate designs.

Virginia vanity plates include one that pays homage to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.