The flag, the boycott, the beach | Local legislators, leaders weigh in

The killing of a member of the state Legislature shocked other members into action to remove the Confederate battle flag that flies on the State House grounds, a development that the tourism boycott imposed by the NAACP 15 years ago had not so far accomplished.

Sen. Clementa Pinckney, also a pastor, was one of nine shot dead at a Bible study meeting in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston the evening of June 17.

“It is because of Senator Pinckney’s death, because of the respect Senator Pinckney had,” Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, said Thursday.

“This is a unique situation with huge national attention focused on the flag because of the racist killing of nine in their church, not just Clem,” said Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach. “Never before has there been so much pressure from so many quarters, and so much initial negative, embarrassing publicity for the state,’’ he said. “Hence, never before so much willingness to face the issue again.”