The Latest: Georgia stops issuing Confederate plates

AP News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2015 9:07 PM
The Latest: Georgia stops issuing Confederate plates

The latest in the Charleston church shooting. (All times local.)

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9 p.m.

Georgia has stopped issuing a specialty license plate featuring two Confederate battle flags, and a top official in Gov. Nathan Deal's administration has ordered that changes be made to the design.

Department of Revenue spokesman Nick Genesi said Friday that Commissioner Lynne Riley has ordered a redesign of the Sons of Confederate Veterans plate. Gov. Nathan Deal said earlier this week that the plate should be redesigned but did not specify whether the flag should be removed from it.

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a pastor and eight parishioners of a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week posed with the rebel battle flag before the attack. His use of the flag as a symbol of hate has prompted a reappraisal of the role such symbols play in the South.

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6 p.m.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, says the Confederate flag is "offensive to an entire race" and should be removed from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

Earnhardt Jr.'s comments Friday followed an announcement NASCAR made this week backing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's call to remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds. NASCAR also noted that it bars the flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. Earnhardt backed NASCAR's position when asked about the issue before practice at Sonoma Raceway.

Earnhardt said that if the flag is "offensive to an entire race, it really does nothing for anybody to be there flying."

"It belongs in the history books, that's about it," he said.

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a pastor and eight parishioners of a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week posed with the rebel battle flag before the attack. His use of the flag as a symbol of hate has prompted a reappraisal of the role such symbols play in the South.

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5:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives met Friday with the families of the victims of a deadly shooting that took place at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

According to White House officials, the meetings took place following a funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in downtown Charleston.

Pinckney, 41, was the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where a shooting during a Bible study left him and eight worshippers dead. All the victims were black.

A white suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, was taken into custody and is charged in the deaths.

Obama gave a rousing eulogy during the funeral that included a rendition of the hymn "Amazing Grace" for the packed audience at the College of Charleston's TD Arena.

The college said nearly 6,000 people attended the funeral. Some 5,000 would-be mourners were turned away, apparently for lack of seating.

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4:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama decried gun violence during a rousing eulogy that he delivered Friday for one of the nine victims of a deadly shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"For too long we've been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation," Obama told thousands of mourners gathered at the College of Charleston's TD Arena for the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

"Sporadically our eyes our open ... I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day, the countless more whose lives are forever changed," Obama said. "The survivors crippled. The children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school. The husband who will never feel his wife's warm touch."

Obama's 30-plus minute eulogy was greeted with shouts of "Amen!" applause and multiple standing ovations.

Pinckney, 41, was among nine blacks who were gunned down at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17.

A suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, has been charged in the killings.

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3:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the pain over the killings of nine blacks cuts even deeper because they were slain at a church.

Obama says church is at the center of African-American life. He says it's a "place to call our own in an often hostile world."

Obama made the remarks during a eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine African-Americans shot and killed during a Bible study at a church in Charleson, South Carolina, last week. The suspect charged in the killings, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, is white.

Obama also addressed the symbol of the Confederate flag and said for many it was a reminder of "systemic oppression and racial subjugation." Roof had been photographed with the flag before the shootings.

Obama broke into song toward the end of his 30-plus minute eulogy, delivering a rendition of "Amazing Grace" to the crowd of 5,000 mourners.

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3:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama is delivering a rousing eulogy for a black man who was among nine who were slain at an African-American church in South Carolina last week.

"The nation shares in your grief," Obama said Friday during a eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, who was shot and killed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Eight others also died.

"What a good man," Obama said. "What an example he set."

Obama received enthusiastic applause and several standing ovations from the crowd of more than 5,000 mourners. He also called for an end to the display of the Confederate flag. The shooting suspect was seen in photos displaying the flag.

"By taking down that flag, we express God's grace," he said.

Obama also decried gun violence in the U.S.

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2:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have entered an arena in Charleston, South Carolina, where a funeral is underway for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

The Obamas took seats in the first row of the College of Charleston's TD Arena. They were accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. They were seated amid more than 5,000 mourners and joined in the signing of hymns.

Obama is to deliver a eulogy for Pinckney, who — along with eight other African-Americans — was shot to death at a Charleston church last week.

A 21-year-old suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, is charged in their deaths.

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1:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama has arrived in Charleston for the funeral of a victim of last week's shooting at a black church. Nine African-Americans were killed when a gunman opened fire during a Bible study.

Obama was scheduled to deliver a eulogy Friday afternoon for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Afterward, White House officials said, the president will also meet with the families of the victims.

Obama met Pinckney in 2007; Pinckney was an early supporter of Obama's presidential campaign.

Air Force One touched down at 1:04 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner and first lady Michelle Obama were also on board. White House spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed that it was Boehner's first flight aboard that aircraft during Obama's presidency.

A separate aircraft was to bring a delegation of lawmakers.

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12:35 p.m.

Georgia Democrats are calling for an end to state holidays commemorating Confederate history, joining a push across the country to remove the battle flag and other symbols from government buildings after nine African-Americans were fatally shot at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A 21-year-old white man identified by authorities as the shooter has been linked to an online diatribe professing allegiance to white supremacy and displaying the Confederate battle flag.

At a news conference Friday at the state Capitol in Atlanta, state Sen. Vincent Fort said that he is drafting legislation to prevent any Confederate holidays in Georgia. The state celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on a date determined by the governor to mark the end of the Civil War in Georgia and Confederate History Month.

The funeral for one of the nine victims, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was being held Friday. He and eight other blacks were killed June 17 during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver a eulogy.

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11:45 a.m.

The funeral has started for one of the nine victims of a shooting at a historic African-American church that authorities have said was racially motivated.

The funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney follows several hours of singing and mourning Friday at the packed-to-capacity College of Charleston's TD Arena.

President Barack Obama is expected to speak later to eulogize Pinckney. First lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife will also attend.

The line of people waiting to get into the funeral stretched for a mile at one point.

Pinckney and eight other blacks were shot to death last week during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. A suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, has been charged in their murders.

Pinckney was the pastor of the church and also served as a state senator.

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11:30 a.m.

Police have announced that the locale for the funeral of one of the nine victims of the Charleston church shooting last week has reached capacity.

The College of Charleston's TD Arena was full ahead of the funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Police said they had to turn away hundreds of people who were still standing in a line that stretched several blocks. President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver a eulogy.

Some people cried after they were turned away.

Remote viewings have been set up at county offices, a church in North Charleston and a museum downtown, among other places.

A band and a choir of several hundred men and women are leading the crowd of roughly 6,000 mourners in a medley of spiritual songs ahead of the funeral.

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10 a.m.

Three months before the deadly shooting rampage at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people, Dylann Roof was questioned by a Columbia police officer who found AR-15 magazines in his trunk, according to a police document released Friday.

Roof was spotted March 13 loitering in his car in a Columbia park by an off-duty police officer. It was the same officer who had arrested Roof a month earlier at a Columbia mall on a misdemeanor charge of possessing the drug Suboxone, a narcotic used to wean people from opiate addiction, the police report said.

The officer who arrived at the scene asked Roof why he was in the park and asked if he could search the car. Roof agreed and the officer found six 40-round magazines as well as part of an AR-15. Roof was questioned, but he was not charged.

The 21-year-old Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder in the deadly attack at the Charleston church last week. Police say he used a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in the attack. Friends say Roof bought the gun in April with money he got for his birthday.

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9:20 a.m.

A hearse carrying the body of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and accompanied by a somber procession of mourners headed to an arena in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, where his funeral will be held.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver a eulogy for Pinckney, one of nine African-Americans gunned down at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study last week. Pinckney was pastor of the church and also a state senator.

Thousands of people were gathered at the College of Charleston's TD Arena for the funeral, which was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

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8:10 a.m.

Crowds were gathering outside an arena were funeral services were to be held for one of the nine victims of the Charleston church shooting last week. President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver the eulogy.

Hundreds of people began lining up in a queue that stretched at least four blocks from the arena. Services were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also served as a state senator.

Wanda Johnson of Anderson, South Carolina, said it was "monumental" that Obama was coming to support the community and the state and also said she was proud of the way people in her state have remained peaceful and united after unrest in other cities that followed the killings of unarmed African-Americans.

"I think it speaks a whole lot for the people of South Carolina," she said.

Pinckney and eight other blacks were killed last week by a gunman during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. A suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, has been charged in their murders.