COLUMBIA, South Carolina -- Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in the South Carolina capital to protest the flying of the Confederate flag there.
The rally in Columbia came in the wake of the massacre of 9 people at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston Wednesday, during which the suspect, Dylann Roof, allegedly made racially inflammatory statements.
Police were treating the carnage as a hate crime.
The "Take Down the Flag" rally kicked off around 6:15 p.m. with a number of speakers and chants of "take it down," referring to the flag that flies on the capitol lawn.
At one point, there was a moment of silence for the victims, who included the pastor of the church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
There was also a collection taken up.
Ralliers held signs, including "honk to take down the flag."
At the end the protesters held hands and sang "We Shall Overcome."
"Silence equals violence," a post on the Facebook page said. "Now is the time to do the right thing by speaking out and demanding that our State House Grounds be free of symbols of racial violence and injustice."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denounced the shootings, but said the debate about the Confederate flag should be postponed until the victims are buried.
"Before we have that discussion, we should allow the families of the loved ones to bury their dead and pay their respects in that regard," Walker said.
With reporting by Jordyn Phelps.
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