COLUMBIA, S.C — The Confederate flag has no place on Statehouse grounds, and it’s past time to remove the symbol of hatred, a Republican state lawmaker said Saturday.

Rep. Doug Brannon, first elected in 2010, said he’s thought for years that the flag should come down, but it wasn’t until Wednesday’s massacre at a Charleston church that he decided he could do something about.

“I just didn’t have the balls for five years to do it. 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 said. “It’s not just a symbol of hate, it’s actually a symbol of pride in one’s hatred.”

Brannon told The Associated Press that he will introduce a bill in December to move the flag and the pole it flies from to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.

Brannon said several Republican legislators have offered to co-sponsor the bill, but “I’m not willing to risk somebody else’s political career.”

In 1998, former Gov. David Beasley, a Republican, lost his bid for a second term after coming out in support of removing the flag from the dome.

South Carolina was the last state to fly the Confederate battle flag from its Statehouse dome until a 2000 compromise put a square version of the flag on a 30-foot pole at the Confederate Soldier Monument directly in front of the Statehouse.

Any deviation requires the legislative approval.

Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday that she welcomes renewed talks, but they need to wait.

“There will be an appropriate time for policy discussions in the not too distant future,” she said.