CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus released a press statement Wednesday formally calling for a repeal of the Heritage Act.
The law in question forbids the removal of memorials for any historic figure or event from public property without a two-thirds vote of the state legislature.
“Clearly, it’s time for the state of South Carolina to revisit the Heritage Act,” Rep. Jerry Govan said. “Consider the time and rationale for its passage — to maintain the flying of the Confederate flag on the State House grounds, which was an offensive symbol to many South Carolinians.”
Govan, invoking the 2015′s racially motivated Mother Emanuel AME church shooting, said, “It took the tragic loss of nine innocent lives, including our colleague Senator Clementa Pinckney, to make our state realize the unthinkable pain caused by these divisive symbols. Five years later, we know there are other symbols of hate and division across our state and it’s time to move forward.”
The S.C. Legislative Black Caucus is effectively attacking the Heritage Act’s requirement of a two-thirds super majority within the state legislature, in what they see as an unnecessary hurdle for the removal of public monuments.
“We’re not trying to erase history, we just want to put it in the appropriate place,” Rep. Wendell Gilliard said. “The legislature can no longer stand in the way. We must repeal the Heritage Act and allow communities to remove racist monuments.”
While the state waits to hear Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg’s decision on Marion Park’s John C. Calhoun statue, legislators in Columbia say they are gearing up for a much larger state-wide battle.