South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the removal of a Confederate flag from the state capitol’s grounds.
The Confederate flag, emblematic of the south during the US civil war, was embraced by Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine people in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last week.
Governor Nikki Haley called for the “removal of a symbol that divides us”, and urged the state legislature to act.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans says it will fight attempts to remove it.
The group says it symbolizes their heritage and history, not hate, and offered condolences to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the attack took place.
At a news conference, Nikki Haley acknowledged that point of view but said to many others it was a “deeply offensive symbol of brutal oppression”.
Hours later, Walmart announced it would no longer stock any products that display the Confederation flag.
The Confederate flag was originally the battle flag of the southern states in the American Civil War when they tried to break away to prevent the abolition of slavery.
Only the South Carolina’s state legislature may remove the flag, according to a deal hatched in 2000 when the flag was moved from the capitol’s dome to the memorial where it now stands.
A vote could take place this week and could bring to an end many years of bitter arguing about the prominent location of the flag.
The latest debate over it was prompted by the shooting of nine black worshippers during a bible study group at the church in Charleston.
Suspect Dylann Roof has been pictured holding the Confederate flag.
State leaders have held crisis meetings as they have tried to find a solution but some leading Republicans have called for action.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, has also called for the flag’s removal.
Like Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham has reversed his position in light of the tragedy.
Others, including the Republican House Majority Leader Jay Lucas and Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, have also spoken out.
The Emanuel AME Church shooting has reignited an ongoing national debate over race relations.
President Barack Obama weighed in during a recent interview in which he used the N-word to make a point about racism in the US.
Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy at the funeral of one of the men killed – Clementa Pinckney, a personal friend of the president, who was state senator and pastor of the church.