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Thousands sign Confederate flag petition, saying #TakeItDown

Thousands of Americans are petitioning for removal of Confederate flags from government buildings in South Carolina, following the shooting deaths of nine people inside a historically black church in Charleston.

Thousands of Americans are petitioning for removal of Confederate flags from  government buildings in South Carolina, following the shooting deaths of nine people Wednesday inside a historically black church in Charleston. 

The petition, which has already amassed more than 100,000 signatures since its launch, is set to be delivered to the South Carolina state house, the state senate and Gov. Nikki Haley once the goal of 125,000 signatures is met. 

Since the attack, thousands of tweets have been posted using the hashtag #TakeItDown, referring to the flag, and the hashtags #ConfederateFlag and #TakeItDown have been top Twitter trends. 

The suspected shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, had photos on his Facebook page in which he was posing with a Confederate flag plate on his car and wearing a jacket bearing the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia. 

The debate surrounding the use of the Confederate flag has long divided the state. Those in favour of its use argue that it is a symbol of southern pride, while those opposed argue that it is racist, often making reference to the Cornerstone speech of 1861 by Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens. 

The Confederate flag, has been criticized by many civil rights activists, including the NAACP, as a symbol of pro-slavery in the Deep South during the Civil War. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic also made a call for the removal of the Confederate flag in a tweet that circulated widely on Twitter Friday. 

Supporters who are in favour of the continued use of the Confederate flag argue that it is a symbol of southern pride.

Others said that removing a symbol would be pointless if no other cultural changes happen.  

Following a gathering of family members of some of the nine people shot in Charleston, the NAACP's national president and CEO Cornell Brooks, who was in attendance, called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house.

U.S. President Barack Obama also used Twitter to weigh in on the tragedy after speeches were given by family members of the shooting victims.

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