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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott, on I-75 Confederate Flag: 'Right now we ought to be mourning'



Gov. Rick Scott says mourning the victims of last week's tragic shooting in Charleston, S.C. trumps talking about the Confederate flag.

In South Carolina, lawmakers appear poised to move the Confederate flag from the state Capitol in the wake of the shooting.

But in a stop in St. Petersburg Monday afternoon, Gov. Rick Scott would not address a similar issue inside Florida's borders: a new movement to take down a massive Confederate Flag that greets I-75 drivers near the I-4 junction.

“There were nine individuals that lost their life last week in Charleston. I’ll be praying for that church and all those families. That’s what we ought to be thinking about right now," Gov. Scott said. "There’s plenty of time to have other conversations about other things but right now we ought to be mourning that loss.”

Every day, a 30 by 60 foot Confederate flag waves above drivers passing in and out of Hillsborough county. The Confederate symbol, long a source of controversy, has been intensely scrutinized since last week's tragic slaying of nine African Americans in Emanuel AME, a historic black church. 

Of special interest is the flag that is displayed above the South Carolina Capitol. There has been heated national debate about the flag, which some see as symbolic of institutional racism and some see as an important historical relic. 

A slew of national politicians weighed in on the issue after former presidential candidate Mitt Romney voiced his opinion Saturday that the flag near the Capitol should be taken down

In 2001, Jeb Bush acted to remove the Confederate flag from the Florida Capitol. 

Congressman Patrick Murphy, who could seek Marco Rubio's vacated U.S.Senate seat in 2016, was among those who called Monday for the South Carolina flag to be taken down.

UPDATE: 5:02 P.M. 

Gov. Rick Scott's office released this statement:

"In Florida, the flag was removed under Governor Bush - and that was the right thing to do in our state. Right now we are praying and mourning for the loss of those who were brutally killed last week in Charleston. I am sure Governor Haley did the right thing for her state." -Jackie Schutz, Communications Director

Scott's office also points out that the flag displayed above I-75 rests on private property. The flag and its surrounding memorial is maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.


[Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2015 5:07pm]


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