By JEFFREY COLLINS
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - With protracted emotional debates and raucous protests behind them, South Carolina officials were preparing Friday to quietly and quickly remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse where it has flown for more than a half-century.
The state planned a simple, short ceremony at 10 a.m. to remove the rebel banner, which was surrounded in its final hours by ropes and barricades.
“We will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure it is stored in its rightful place,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said.
Authorities will escort a special van used to transport historical artifacts that will take the flag to the Confederate relic room. There, it eventually will be housed in a multimillion-dollar shrine lawmakers promised to build as part of a compromise to get the bill ordering the flag’s removal through the House.
“No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel pain,” Haley said Friday morning on NBC’s “Today” show. “No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel like they don’t belong.”
South Carolina’s leaders first flew the battle flag over the Statehouse dome in 1961 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. It remained there to represent official opposition to the civil rights movement.