GREENVILLE, S.C.The Confederate battle flag is a symbol that has spawned vigorous debate, pro and con, about whether it should fly above the South Carolina Capitol grounds, and now Michelin North America Inc. Chairman and President Pete Selleck has stepped into the debate.
In the wake of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's about-face proposal on removing the flag from the grounds and putting it in a museum, Michelin posted a statement on its website from Mr. Selleck saying that the Greenville-based tire maker supports the flag's removal.
We continue to grieve for the families of the victims of the Charleston shootings, for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community, for our state and for our nation, Mr. Selleck said. We respect this time of mourning and know that healing will not come easily for those personally affected by this tragedy. Michelin applauds Gov. Haley's call to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds and agrees that the flag must be immediately removed.
CBS News reported June 23 that several hundred people gathered to demand the removal of the Confederate battle flag from atop a pole outside South Carolina's Statehouse in Columbia, S.C.
What renewed the debate was the June 17 shooting of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Churchaffectionately called Mother Emanuelincluding the community's pastor, who were killed during a Bible study allegedly by 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof. The self-avowed white supremacist had, according to news reports, a Facebook page showing multiple photos of him posing with and displaying Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags, along with a racist manifesto that called for a race war.
In the past Gov. Haley had deferred criticism about the Confederate flag, saying that for many in the state it still represented noble traditions of heritage and duty, while acknowledging that for others it remained a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. She is now calling for state legislators to vote to remove the flag and relegate it to a historical place in a museum.
According to CBS, the Confederate battle flag was placed atop the Statehouse dome in the 1960s as an official protest of the civil rights movement.
After mass protests, the network said in a news report, it was moved to a flagpole next to a Confederate monument out front in 2000, as part of a compromise between a group of black lawmakers and the Republicans who have controlled South Carolina since 2001.