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Alabama removes Confederate flag from memorial at statehouse

Alabama removed the Confederate battle flag from a Confederate memorial on the statehouse grounds Wednesday.

Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the flag to be taken down, the Birmingham News reported.

“This is the right thing to do,” Bentley said, the Birmingham News reported. “We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”

Bentley also confirmed that his decision partly rested on the recent shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where one week ago, Dylann Roof, 21, allegedly entered a Bible study at a historic African-American church, killing nine people.

This is the latest effort among politicians in Southern states to distance themselves from the controversial flag, which is often perceived as a symbol of racism. On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that her state should remove the flag from the capitol grounds.

In Mississippi, House Speaker Philip Gunn issued a statement saying, “We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us.”

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