Since the horrific Charleston shootings perpetrated by Dylann Roof took place, the United States has been in a fierce debate over the Confederate flag and whether or not it can be considered a symbol of hate. Walmart stores have taken a bold stance by banning all merchandise featuring the Confederate flag, and the governor of South Carolina is advocating for the removal of the Confederate flag. Now, even more states are coming forward in opposition to the symbol, and more still are considering introducing hate crime legislation.
According to the New York Times, the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, is also attempting to get the Confederate flag out of his state, namely off the license plates of vehicles. Speaking at an event in Richmond, Gov. McAuliffe announced that the racist associations of the Confederate flag only works to divide the people of Virginia.
"Even its display on state-issued license tags is, in my view, unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people," McAuliffe said.
Mississippi is also on the path to remove the Confederate flag from their state, according to the Clarion-Ledger. The speaker of the Mississippi state House, Republican Philip Gunn, wants the Confederate flag banner to be removed from the Mississippi state flag.
"As a Christian, I believe our state's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi's flag," said Gunn.
He admitted that it is important to remember the state's past, which was part of the Confederate forces in the Civil War, but that people of Mississippi should not be defined by that history.
Dylann Roof, the culprit behind the Charleston shootings, posted photos of himself online with the Confederate flag and reportedly wanted to start another civil war. This affiliation between the Confederate flag and the massacre has provoked many people to rethink the meaning behind the image.
A petition to have the Confederate flag banner removed from the Mississippi flag is quickly gaining signatures, as reported previously by the Inquisitr.
According to the Huffington Posts, some states are also working to pass new hate crime laws in the wake of the Charleston shootings. Currently, there are five U.S. states with no hate crime laws on the books: Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
But a representative from South Carolina, Democrat Wendell Gilliard, is attempting to pass new laws that will impose harsher punishments for hate crimes. Gilliard is co-sponsoring the legislation with J. Seth Whipper.
"Hate groups and hateful individuals see the inaction and are emboldened to come into our communities and commit horrific acts," Gilliard said. "Passing the law would be sending a message: We know you're here; we're prepared for you."
What do you think about the image of the Confederate flag?
[Image credit: Getty]