Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) did a 180 late Thursday after defending South Carolina’s right to fly the Confederate flag in the wake of a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston.
Baker was asked about his view of the “stars and bars” in an Thursday afternoon interview with Boston radio station WGBH. South Carolina has not lowered the Confederate flag that flies over its state capitol to half-staff since a white 21-year-old man opened fire and killed nine people after a Bible study Wednesday night at Emanuel AME Church, according to NBC News.
The governor told WGBH host Jim Braude that he’s an advocate for local government and thinks South Carolinians should be able to “make their own call” on flying the flag over the state capitol, according to The Boston Globe.
“I do believe that the reason that flag still hangs there is, you know, what I would call sort of ‘tradition’ or something like that,” he told Braude, as quoted by the newspaper. “And there’s certainly a heated debate that’s gone on over the years down there about that.”
Baker walked back those remarks Thursday evening in a call to The Globe.
“I just want to be clear. I abhor the symbolism and the history of that flag as much as anybody, and I am more than cognizant of the fact that literally millions of Americans died over what it represents in the Civil War,” he told the newspaper.
The governor then went further in calling for the Palmetto State to take the Confederate flag down entirely.
“I think they should take the flag down,” the governor told The Globe, adding “The symbolism of this one is important and I should have done a better job of appreciating that.”
“I’m sorry if I didn’t do a particularly good job representing that today,” Baker said.