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Hundreds Rally To Remove Confederate Flag From South Carolina Capitol Grounds

The rally took place just days after a racially motivated shooting left nine people dead at a historic Charleston church.

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Hundreds rallied in Columbia, South Carolina, Saturday to call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol grounds.

The rally took place outside the capitol building and included a series of speeches and chants before concluding with participants singing "We Shall Overcome." The Associated Press reported that there were hundreds of people at the demonstration.

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Demonstrators carried signs calling the Confederate flag racist and arguing against those who claim it should be flown as an emblem of the state's heritage.

BuzzFeed News reporter Joel Anderson was on scene and spoke with the organizers of the rally. One of those organizers, Mariangeles Borghini, expressed surprise at the large turnout, while Tom Hall, another organizer, declared that "this whole state is gonna change."

Tom Hall, another organizer of the #TakeDownTheFlag rally greets a demonstrator. "The whole state is gonna change."

The Confederate flag, and its removal, has become a focal point in the wake of the shooting at a historic black church in Charleston that left nine people dead.

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Some demonstrators called the flag hateful Saturday and compared it to a swastika. Others told BuzzFeed News it was "silly" that it was still flying over the State Capitol.

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On the steps of the South Carolina statehouse. #TakeDownTheFlag

"That flag needs to come down. It's crazy. It's silly" -Daphne Childers w/daughters Jessica & Casey #TakeDownTheFlag

The rally came as political leaders are also increasingly calling for the flag to be taken down.

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have both come out in support of removing the flag.

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On Saturday, South Carolina State Rep. Doug Brannon told the AP he also believes the flag should come down.

Brannon, a Republican, called the flag a symbol of both hate and "a symbol of pride in one's hatred." He added that the shooting in Charleston prompted him to finally speak up about the issue.

"I just didn't have the balls for five years to do it," he explained. "But when my friend was assassinated for being nothing more than a black man, I decided it was time for that thing to be off the Statehouse grounds."

Brannon plans to introduce a bill to have the flag removed.

The #TakeDownTheFlag rally is underway here in Columbia.

Someone wasn't quite as excited about having her picture taken. Guess who? #TakeDownTheFlag

Protesters also marched Saturday in Charleston.

Heavily white Charleston crowd chanting "Black Lives Matter" near the Confederate Museum. Quite something.

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Marching past Louis Vuitton on King Street

This is what democracy looks like. #BlackLivesMatter #CharlestonShooting

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

Joel Anderson is a senior national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. His secure PGP fingerprint is 0FC3 6546 0874 8D17 BDA8 B237 E902 EE20 2D74 269

Contact Joel Anderson at joel.anderson@buzzfeed.com.

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