WASHINGTON -- Both of Mississippi's Republican senators called on the state to change its flag in the aftermath of a horrific shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Mississippi state flag contains an emblem of the Confederate battle flag, which represents slavery and oppression to many. Dylann Storm Roof, the accused Charleston shooter, can be seen holding it up in multiple photos that surfaced in the wake of last week's attack.
“As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive,” Sen. Roger Wicker said in a statement released Wednesday. “However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others.”
Sen. Thad Cochran said he hoped the "state government will consider changing the state flag."
"The recent debate on the symbolism of our flag, which belongs to all of us, presents the people of our state an opportunity to consider a new banner that represents Mississippi," he added. "I appreciate the views of my friend and colleague Roger Wicker, and agree that we should look for unity and not divisiveness in the symbols of our state.”
The Wednesday remarks by both senators were further evidence of the Republican Party's tectonic shift on the matter in the past several days. Asked on Monday whether the flag should stay, Wicker maintained it ought to be left up to the people of Mississippi.
“If it is time to make a change, then it should be up to the Mississippi legislature and the people of the state to decide," he said.
Cochran, too, said in an interview earlier this week that Mississippi's flag shouldn’t be changed “just because it’s creating controversy in other states.”