(CN) – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state capital Wednesday morning, and it was gone in a manner of minutes.
Unlike South Carolina, where a 15-year-old law protecting the flag requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature to allow its removal, Bentley’s order was quietly carried out by two state workers with zero fanfare.
In explaining his decision to remove the flag, Bentley said he was partly motivated by last week’s murder of nine in Charleston, S.C.’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, but he also said more mundane concerns also figured in his thinking.
“We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters … [and] this had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward,” Bentley told AL.com.
In South Carolina, the North Charleston City Council scheduled an emergency meeting today to consider an ordinance prohibiting protests within a certain distance of funeral, memorial or burial services.
The Westboro Baptist Church, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” has vowed to picket the funerals of the Charleston shooting victims, which are scheduled to be held over the next several days.
A counter movement has sprung up in recent days, and started a Facebook page called “Human Wall Barrier to protect AME funerals.” According to the website, 2,900 people have already said they will participate.
Meanwhile, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church plans to hold Bible Study class Wednesday night, exactly a week after Dylann Storm Root allegedly killed the church’s pastor and several parishioners during such a class.
“Even in the midst of tragedy, we must still press forward,” said Rev. Norvel Goff, who has been named interim leader of the 200 year old church.
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