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Confederate flag protest in South Carolina

A crowd sings after a South Carolina honor guard lowers the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds for the last time on July 10, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Republican Governor Nikki Haley presided over the event after signing the historic legislation to remove the flag the day before. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Confederate flag protest in South Carolina

The Confederate flag was lowered from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse to the cheers of thousands on Friday, July 10, 2015, ending its 54-year presence there and marking a stunning political reversal in a state where many thought the rebel banner would fly indefinitely.

The turnabout seemed unthinkable before the June 17 massacre of nine black parishioners — including a state senator — at a Charleston church during a Bible study. Dylann Roof, a white man who was photographed with the Confederate flag, is charged in the shooting deaths, and authorities have called the killings a hate crime.

The massacre reignited calls to remove Confederate flags and symbols across the South and around the nation.

The crowd chanted "USA" and "hey, hey, hey, goodbye" as the flag was swiftly lowered by an honor guard of South Carolina troopers during a 6-minute ceremony. Gov. Nikki Haley stood on the Statehouse steps and while she didn't speak, she nodded and smiled in the direction of the crowd after someone shouted: "Thank you governor." (AP)

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