Najee Ali, executive director of Project Islamic Hope, and a coalition of African American activists held a Confederate flag-burning ceremony on June 23 to rally in support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State Capitol. The rally took place at the intersection of Crenshaw and King boulevards, on the Walmart side.

“Our coalition of activists not only supports the call by Gov. Haley [but] we’re taking it a step further by burning the Confederate flag in memory of all our slain ancestors who have been murdered by those who have fought under this flag and by those who continue to be inspired to kill African Americans,” said Ali.

Dylann Storm Roof was arrested on June 18 as the suspected killer in the mass shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C. It remains one of the United States’ oldest Black churches, seen as a community organization supporting civil rights.

Nine people were killed, including the pastor and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. One person was injured. Roof says he wanted to shoot Black people, and let one survivor live because “he wanted her to tell everyone what happened,” as reported by CNN. Roof, a supporter of White supremacy, can be seen in numerous photos posing with the Confederate battle flag.

On June 22, Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House’s grounds. “Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds,” she said.

Several of America’s leading merchants—such as Walmart, Amazon, and Ebay—have decided to ban the selling of Confederate flag merchandise amid the controversial debate.

“This flag represents the worst in America,” said Ali. “It’s a symbol of racial [hate] and racial terrorism. The only flag Americans should be united in supporting is the American flag.”

Ali asserted that Americans should consider themselves patriotic for burning a confederate flag: it is a symbol that is responsible for the immense amount of death and suffering among African Americans in the United States, he says.