The racially-motivated slaying of nine black people by a white gunman at a historic church in Charleston — which authorities were investigating as a hate crime — has reignited a fierce debate both within South Carolina and around the U.S. over taking down the Confederate battle flag for good, NBC News reported. In the Palmetto State, where the flag flew atop the statehouse from 1962 until being moved to a separate pole on the grounds in 2000, the issue is divisive, with many insisting that it is simply a symbol of Southern pride. But as the victims' families mourned, and the Confederate flag remained at full staff even as the two flags atop the capitol were lowered to honor the victims, both state leaders and a chorus of voices on social media have called for the battle flag's permanent removal. And the gunman in the church massacre, Dylann Roof, had adorned his car's front license plate with an image of the Confederate flag. "It's long past time, and I think that we ought to remove it," said Rep. James Clyburn, a prominent black member of Congress. "Not because of what happened in Charleston, because it has no place having any appearance of sovereignty."