#TakeDownTheFlag Petitions Multiply; Hundreds of Thousands Call on States, Corporations to Remove Racist Symbol
More than 600,000 people have signed more than 50 petitions on MoveOn.org calling for states to stop flying the Confederate flag on government property, discontinue Confederate license plates, and stop selling Confederate merchandise.
In the week since the racially motivated terrorist attack in Charleston, more than 600,000 people have signed petitions on MoveOn.org calling on state-level elected officials and major corporations to stop promoting the Confederate flag, a symbol of racism, hatred, and division.
More than 550,000 people, including more than 34,000 South Carolinians, have signed MoveOn member Karen Hunter’s petition to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and state officials. This week, Gov. Haley changed her previous position on the flag and said she would call for a special session of the state legislature this summer to remove the flag if needed. Hunter’s petition is one of the largest in MoveOn Petitions history and the second-fastest to reach 500,000 signatures.
In Mississippi, more than 55,000 people, including more than 10,000 Mississippians, have signed MoveOn member Jennifer Gunter’s petition to Gov. Phil Bryant and the state House and Senate. “It’s time for us to come together and move into the future in solidarity,” Gunter’s petition reads. State officials have indicated they will introduce legislation to remove the symbol from the flag. On Wednesday, both of the state’s Senators said they would support removing the symbol: Sen. Roger Wicker said he supports retiring the current Mississippi flag, and Sen. Thad Cochran agreed.
In several states, MoveOn members are petitioning to remove the Confederate flag from government-issued license plates. This week, after separate MoveOn Petitions went up in each state calling on them to do so, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said they would work to remove the symbol from license plates. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also said he would phase out such license plates on Tuesday.
Here is a list of the fastest-growing MoveOn-hosted petitions on the Confederate flag:
“The Confederate flag is the chosen symbol of white supremacists; it’s an active reminder of centuries of racial oppression,” wrote MoveOn.org Campaign Director Corinne Ball in an email to members this week. “And if we can help get rid of it on government buildings in states like South Carolina and Mississippi, as well as from the shelves of mega-retailers like Amazon and Walmart, we’ll help show that we’re better than the darkest moments of our history. That progress is possible.”
Nationwide, high-profile figures from President Obama to Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush have called for removing the flag. A new Public Policy Polling poll shows that just 1 in 5 of Americans support flying the Confederate flag over government buildings. And on Sunday, #TakeDownTheFlag was trending nationally on Twitter.
This week, Walmart, Sears, Kmart, eBay, and Amazon all pledged to stop selling merchandise featuring the flag. A MoveOn petition to Amazon garnered more than 500 signatures before a spokesperson for the company confirmed they would pull such products.
“When I woke up on Thursday morning and heard of the church shooting in South Carolina I was overwhelmed with emotion. I knew I needed to do something to help,” said Hunter, the creator of the South Carolina petition who also hosts Sirius XM’s “The Karen Hunter Show.” “When I thought of the fact that the Confederate flag—a symbol of racism—was still flying over the capitol of South Carolina, taunting the victims of this terrible crime and of every Black person it flew over I knew I needed to take action. That’s why I started a MoveOn Petition demanding that South Carolina stand up for what’s right and take down the Confederate flag. Now more than 500,000 people have signed that petition and have shown that we reject this symbol of hate. It is time for South Carolina’s government to do the same.”
“I tell people that the flag that flies in front of the statehouse here, at least that’s not your official state flag,” Mississippi petition creator Gunter—a native of Jackson who holds two degrees from the University of Mississippi and is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of South Carolina—told the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s still a part of mine. I figured if we were going to change it, this would be the time. Are we still going to be the last to take it down?”