Charleston church shooting

Charleston church shooting

On the evening of June 17, 2015, a mass shooter took the lives of nine African American people at a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The massacre at a historic black church deeply shook a nation already jaded by frequent gun violence and heralded the return of violent white nationalism in America.

Among the victims was the activist and state senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's senior pastor. Carrying on Emanuel AME's legacy as a center of civil rights organizing, Pinckney was a vocal advocate for police accountability who had made national headlines for his response to the murder of Walter Scott by a police officer in North Charleston the previous April. The shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, joined Pinckney and members of his congregation for a Bible study session on the night of June 17, before drawing a gun, telling the others that African Americans were "taking over the country," and opening fire. According to one survivor, Roof tried to shoot himself but had run out of ammunition and fled instead. He was arrested the following morning in North Carolina and, after an investigation and trial that brought to light his radicalization and intense white supremacist beliefs, sentenced to death.

Mass shootings were common in the United States by 2015, but the Charleston massacre was a clear act of white supremacist violence that came as the nation slowly realized its racism problem was getting worse, not better. Then-president Barack Obama, who knew Pinckney, delivered the eulogy at his funeral, leading the assembly in the singing of "Amazing Grace."

The next several years would be marked by more horrific white nationalist violence in America, including the murder of Heather Heyer during a right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and a 2018 shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue that claimed eleven lives.

READ MORE: Charleston's Emanuel 9 Memorial: Balancing Education With Healing


The Charleston Shooting: What Happened

A 21-year-old white man is suspected of opening fire on a prayer meeting he had been attending at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday night. Nine people were fatally shot before he fled in a black sedan. (Our live blog has the latest.) This is security footage of him entering the church.

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After an intense overnight manhunt, the authorities said they had arrested the suspect, identified as Dylann Storm Roof, 200 miles away in North Carolina.

The case was being handled as a hate crime. A cousin of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was one of the victims, said in an interview with NBC that a survivor had heard the gunman saying: “I have to do it. You rape our women, and you are taking over our country. And you have to go.”

The Victims

Among the dead was Mr. Pinckney, the church’s pioneering pastor and a state senator. “He was my friend, he was my colleague, but he was also my brother in Christ,” a fellow state senator said.

Two other men and six women, including Mr. Pinckney’s sister, were also killed, plunging the community into shock and mourning.

Where It Happened

The church is one of the nation’s oldest black congregations, with a history dating to the slavery era. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there in 1962, when it was a center of civil rights organizing.

The Suspect

The F.B.I. said Mr. Roof had never been on their radar. His uncle said he received a gun for his birthday in April, and his Facebook photo shows him in a jacket bearing the flags of two former white supremacist regimes, in apartheid-era South Africa and the former Rhodesia.

The Aftermath

After the shooting, as helicopters with searchlights circled overhead, a group of pastors knelt and prayed across the street. “The question is, ‘Why, God?’ ” one man cried.


Historic Charleston church has deep roots in African-American history

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is among the oldest black churches in the South and has played a large role in African-American history from its inception.

On Wednesday night the historic church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, was the scene of a horrific shooting when a white gunman opened fire during a prayer meeting. Nine people were killed including the pastor, in an assault authorities described as a hate crime. The shooting suspect, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, was taken into custody Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina, a four-hour drive from Charleston.

Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff, a presiding elder who oversees the church said Thursday on "CBS This Morning," that it is "a hallmark of African Methodism in the South."

"Mother Emanuel is noted for bringing about change and working together to build bridges, not only in the Charleston community, but across this nation and across this state," he said.

Emanuel AME Church, commonly referred to as "Mother Emanuel," is the oldest AME church in the south, according to the official Emanuel website. It has one of the largest and oldest black congregations south of Baltimore, Maryland.

AME churches can trace their roots back to Methodist communities. The church was founded after those of African decent were excluded and restricted from worshiping at predominately white churches.

The Emanuel African Methodist (AME) Church is the oldest AME church in the South and is often referred to as "Mother Emanuel," according to the church website. Bing

Charleston shooting

Morris Brown, a free, black shoemaker and a Methodist, walked out of a predominantly white Methodist Church in Charleston in 1816, an AME Church website states. Brown formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston and served as pastor from 1818 until 1822.

Denmark Vesey, another founding church member, led a failed 1822 slave rebellion that drove the church underground, said the Rev. Joe Darby, presiding elder of the AME Church's Beaufort District.

After Vesey's plot was reported, Vesey was hanged and the church was burned. Over 300 suspected participants were also arrested and 35 executed.

The church has been a pillar for African-Americans' moral and spiritual life, said Andre Rogers, a professor of church ministry at Columbia International University in Columbia.

"Emanuel has always been on the cutting edge of what's going in the black community of South Carolina," Rogers said.

"They've had their share of persecution, both natural and man-made, over the years and still have been a champion for the community in the midst of their own struggles," he added.

Violence against those worshipping at African-American churches has been going on for centuries, both before and during the Civil War, as well as during the Civil Rights Movement, Rogers said.

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, Emanuel was a focal point of activism. The King Center tweeted a photo Wednesday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders organizing at the church.

One of those killed Wednesday was the congregation's pastor, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

"There was no limit to where Rev. Sen. Pinckney would have ended up," Goff said." "But most certainly those of us who knew him, labored with him in the various segments of our community, he was a bridge-builder, he was a family man."

Goff said Pinckney is survived by a wife and two daughters.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said eight victims were found dead inside the church and the ninth died at a hospital.

"The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley. "It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. . This is one hateful person." Riley said the shooting was an "unspeakable tragedy. Inexplicable."

More info on church history can be found here

First published on June 18, 2015 / 3:04 PM

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


A Sociologist Explains The Charleston Church Shooting And Racism In The U.S.

A shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday has shaken the country, leaving many reflecting on the state of race relations in the United States.

Nine people, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor and a South Carolina state senator, were shot to death by accused gunman Dylann Storm Roof at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Authorities have called the shooting a hate crime.

But how does one explain such a crime from a scientific perspective? What could lead someone to commit a racially motivated hate crime? What is racism -- and how can we as a society overcome it?

HuffPost Science posed those questions and others on Thursday to Dr. R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy, an associate professor of sociology at The City College of New York and author of the book Inequality in the Promised Land.

From a sociology perspective, how would you define racism?

I would define racism as a system of social advantages and disadvantages doled out based upon group membership, particularly what we have socially defined as races. Among sociologists, we also talk about a newer form of racism known as "colorblind racism" (Eduardo Bonilla-Silva pioneered this work) that emerged after the 1960s, where the outward expression of racial animus and explicit discriminatory laws have been silenced or removed, but unfair racial advantages or disadvantages are still doled out, despite few people admitting to being devout racists.

From my framework, it is possible for someone to be working in service of racism by endorsing white supremacist ideologies. For example, Dylann Roof in South Carolina opened fire in Mother Emanuel Church and subscribed to beliefs about the superiority of whites and the “natural” order of things. Alternatively, someone who is black can also endorse negative beliefs about their racial siblings despite being a member of that group. A common example of this would be a police officer who is black but utilizes racial profiling in her or his everyday police work.

How would you then describe the ways in which our society is set up to perpetuate racism?

Our society is ripe with messages about the meaning and limits of race. In contemporary America, the immigration debate is often framed around Latinos from Central America, when in fact immigrants come from a wide range of locations and vary greatly by hue. In domestic policy, issues of welfare are often framed [with] African-Americans . assumed to be the beneficiaries of social support, when in reality far more whites receive federal and state support for poverty alleviation. In the area of international violence, terrorism has become nearly exclusively associated with Muslims, both in the Middle East and here in the states.

All of these media frames and our often unquestioned endorsement of them perpetuate racism. They lead people to think the observed differences they see are naturally occurring. Because of these frames, people can believe in the intellectual inferiority and superiority of differing groups, in the athletic abilities of another and in the artistic capacities of another. Rarely are these things questioned. An example I often use is that if tomorrow the Educational Testing Service came out with results that said white Americans outperformed all other ethnic groups, it would not result in an ounce of attention or scrutiny. However, if tomorrow the ETS presented results that said African-Americans outperformed all other ethnic groups in math and reading, there would be considerable uproar, because many of us have been taught the shape of racial inequality and will fight to maintain it.

Do you think economic factors perpetuate racial inequality?

Economics and race have always been tied. It's hard to understand racism without a fundamental understanding of how economics play into the inequalities of our lives. Contemporary wealth inequality is a perfect example. Demos recently published a report showing the average white family has $111,146 in wealth holdings, while the average black family had $7,113 and the average Latino family $8,348. These disparities are huge! They are not simply the function of some groups working harder than others -- instead, they result from differences in the opportunity to accumulate wealth. The history of unequal home loans, access to higher education, as well as wage gaps, have allowed whites to gain advantages at the expense of other racial groups. However, contemporary racism often asks us to ignore the role of the past on the present, which turns a blind eye to the hands of inequality in the past and present.

In that case, do you think America is still suffering from slavery, and how so?

America is not a country that has forgotten about slavery -- after all, you can stay at bed-and-breakfasts on "plantations," visit museums that discuss the wonder of the cotton gin and even attend Civil War re-enactments. However, America is a country that has failed to fully reckon with slavery. The unequal racial worlds that we live in today are tied back to the critical "peculiar institution" of slavery. The wealth accumulated on the backs of African people, the laws erected to separate races, and the resulting social ethos and material inequalities remain unrattled.

Last year, when Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic, he was pointing to unequal practices that occurred since the end of slavery because he knew America would not deal with [its history of] slavery. While his piece was widely celebrated, people are scared to confront the Jim Crow South and the industrial North, so slavery remains unaddressed. Today, Americans are still scared to confront why they have accumulated [wealth] while others haven't, and if those differences in accumulation are tied to race. Instead many buy into the belief in meritocracy and desire their gain to be based on what they've accomplished. Unfortunately, our national history and present show that meritocracy was never the system that governed reward -- here or abroad.

Is Southern culture perpetuating unequal practices or such thinking? For instance, the accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, in Charleston had Confederate license plates on his car, and the Confederate flag is sometimes used as a symbol of post-Civil War white supremacy.

Southern culture in particular and American culture in general often casually perpetuate racism in the present, often by recrafting narratives of the past. The Confederate flag, which flies over South Carolina, was not a long-lived historical symbol -- it was the symbol of a rebel force against the United States. The "heritage not hate" trope conveniently skips over the central issues of the Civil War, the position of black people who labored in the antebellum South, as well as the costs that the war had on the nation. Symbols like the Confederate flag are common among hate groups, but also are part of the state's image. The history of those symbols, along with the large number of schools and statues named for Confederate soldiers and even [Ku Klux] Klan members, create a hostile environment for those who understand the history of race in the nation, and those whose ancestors were painfully forced to labor under those flags during and after the end of slavery, and who had their lives terrorized by groups like the KKK.

Dylann Storm Roof is seen in his booking photo after he was apprehended as the main suspect in the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people on June 18, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Were you surprised by Roof's age of 21? Why do you think a young white man from a young generation could be motivated to commit a racially motivated hate crime?

I was not surprised by Roof's age. Outspokenness of white supremacists may be on the decline, but white supremacist ideology exists in a range of ages. Hate groups often have events where children are socialized into racial hate. As well, the Internet has democratized access to white supremacist information. If I am a white high-schooler who feels he has been mistreated while racial minorities have been favored, I'm only a couple of clicks away from a myriad of sites and message boards where I'll find kinship with folks who are in legion of racial hatred or racial nationalism.

If the shooting in Charleston hadn't happened on the heels of many other high-profile race-related incidents -- from Ferguson to Walter Scott -- do you think the general public would have reacted in the same way, why or why not? I think the shooting's timing was significant in that we are seeing a greater national concern about "Black Lives Matter." The visibility of police violence, particularly due to technology, has meant the American public is now more aware of the dangers that black people face on a daily basis. With that being said, a young man shooting into a church on a Wednesday night should raise ire and action. In the past, we've had church burnings, bombing and a host of other moments that make the nation pause and reflect on how far we have come in terms of race relations and how far from healed and whole we are.

Indeed, the shooting in Charleston eerily parallels the racially motivated 1963 Birmingham church bombing, in which four young girls were killed. Can you explain the long history of violent attacks on black churches and racism?

Understanding racism as a system means we must understand the ideologies associated with racism. In the contemporary U.S., colorblind racism demands people not outwardly display their hatred -- instead those beliefs lie just beneath the surface. When the Civil Rights Acts were passed, they did not magically change the hearts or minds of racists. Instead, they made it unpopular to express such beliefs publicly and made certain activities illegal.

Today, the tensions that exist around race are rarely new. They're composed of xenophobia, a belief in the natural order of things and impending threats. Thus, in 1963 in Birmingham, we see a church attacked as black people fight to have the same rights as all Americans and in 2015, we see a church attacked because, [as Roof allegedly said,] "You are taking over the country." The fear of usurpation of power is central.

"The path to overcoming can only happen once we go through it and make sure that people are not only held accountable in rhetoric, but also deeds."

How can we overcome racism?

To overcome slavery and end racism we first have to reckon with their effects. Not simply pay lip service but look deeply at the wounds and unequal worlds created. This is not simply about a class divide. It has been, and still is, about the fictions around race that were created -- the belief that black is inferior, that white is superior and that all others must earn their space in the American hierarchy is dangerous and must be dismantled. The path to overcoming can only happen once we go through it and make sure that people are not only held accountable in rhetoric, but also deeds. From lending institutions to learning institutions, racism continues to structurally and socially divide. The true solution to such a gargantuan task is to dismantle the social world as we know it. Importantly, that does not mean the end of this planet, it simply means the end of an unjustly created, defined and refined world. Until we can see that as a possibility, racism and slavery will continue to shape our daily lives.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Next up in HuffPost Science’s four-part series on race & racism:


Historic Black Church Attacked In Charleston Had Deep Roots In Civil Rights, Abolition

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a shooting left nine people dead Wednesday night, has a history of civil rights activism and has long been one of the most prominent historic black churches in the South.

Called “Mother Emanuel,” the church -- home to one of oldest black Christian communities in the country -- was established in 1816 after black members of the city’s main Methodist church left because of racial discrimination. For nearly 200 years, it has been home to clergy who have gone on to become politicians, leaders of the abolition movement and civil rights crusaders. One of the shooting’s victims, church pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was a Democratic state senator.

Throughout the church's history, it has hosted speakers including Booker T. Washington -- who brought a crowd of white supporters to its pews during a 1909 speech -- Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt T. Walker of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, led a march toward the church in 1969 to support the city’s striking hospital workers.

One of the best known members of the church was Denmark Vesey, who in 1822 attempted to organize what could have been one of the largest slave revolts in U.S. history. Vesey and five others were found guilty after a secret trial and sentenced to execution. Following the trial, the church was burned by a white mob and rebuilt.

By 1834, local laws were passed to make black churches illegal, forcing Emanuel members to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War.

“Every church is sacred, but Emanuel has so much history wrapped up in it. This church is the church of the sons and daughters of slavery and the membership today serves again as a model that the stones the builders rejected, by the Lord can be raised up,” Bishop John Bryant, one of the top-ranking clergy in the denomination, told The Huffington Post.

“It’s a wonderful church with a marvelous history. . A great history and great pride, and wonderful people who constitute the membership who are proud of being positive citizens. This was a spot chosen to do carnage and the nation ought to see this as offensive,” Bryant said.

Experts on the history of violence against black Americans and black churches have suggested the church may have been targeted because of its role in the civil rights movement.

“There is a long, sad history of anti-black violence, bombings and arson aimed at black churches, which function as the beating theological, social, political, and even economic heart of many black communities,” Valerie Cooper, associate professor of black church studies at Duke University, said in a statement.

“Particularly during the 20th century, burning black churches was a way to try to intimidate blacks seeking increased political or economic power since the churches so often functioned as the hub of civil rights organizing," she said, highlighting the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four children were killed.

The city of of Charleston, often dubbed “Holy City” for the its prominent churches and history of religious tolerance dating back to Colonial times, has also factored strongly into the nation’s civil rights history. Every January, the city, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, marks the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a parade that ends at Emanuel Church.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination was born out of the Free African Society, a group established in 1787 to help newly emancipated slaves gain a footing as free individuals and emerge as community leaders. The denomination formed in the early 19th century under Richard Allen, a pastor and founder of the Free African Society. It quickly spread throughout the Northeast and Midwest, and experienced some of its greatest growth during the Civil War.

Carol Kuruvilla contributed reporting.

See historic photos of Emanuel AME Church below:


Emanuel A.M.E. Church Under Repair, ca. 1909


Emanuel A.M.E. Church After Repairs, ca. 1910


Emanuel A.M.E. Church After Hurricane Hugo (loss of steeple), 1989


The Incredible History of Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E.: The Bravest Church in America

The church at the center of Charleston’s tragic shooting was founded in a spirit of hope and its founders suffered horrific violence—and through it all, it has endured.

Michael Daly

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

The black sedan that pulled into the Emanuel A.M.E. Church bore a vanity license plate on the front reading “Confederate States of America.”

Out stepped Dylann Roof, a little man with a big gun, a .45 caliber automatic that he is said to have received for his 21st birthday two months before.

Roof pulled open the big wood door with his right hand and entered wearing a gray sweatshirt and black pants. He had left behind his jacket with the patches bearing flags from apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia.

By some reports, Roof just sat there for an hour. He was as welcome as anybody of whatever persuasion would be in this cathedral of those who have answered hate and intolerance with faith and endurance over two long centuries.

“This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America,” President Obama would later note.

In this sacred place on Wednesday night, the 41-year-old pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was leading a Bible study that could have been picked from Charleston’s most decent, giving, and selfless souls.

Among them were Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor—mother of four daughters—and retired Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., who had once run Charleston County’s Community Development Block Grant Program. There was also a longtime staffer at the church, Ethel Lee Lance. The lay members included a widely respected librarian named Cynthia Hurd and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a high school speech therapist and track and field coach, as well as Tywanza Sanders, who was a year out of college and sending out résumés, having posted “Watch me fly!” on Facebook. Myra Thompson and Susie Jackson were also in their last minutes of life.

Present as always and at all times was the immortal sprit of Morris Brown. He was the freed shoemaker who had decided back in 1813 that he could no longer endure segregation at a Methodist church that extended even to the graveyard. He resolved to found the first black church in the South.

Among those who joined Brown was Denmark Vesey, whose surname derived from Joseph Vesey, a Bermudian slave dealer who had purchased him when he was 14 in the Virgin Islands. The slave dealer had brought Denmark Vesey with him when he retired to Charleston.

Denmark Vesey was a highly skilled carpenter and managed to earn enough with side jobs to play the city lottery, winning $1,500. He was able to purchase himself and thereby his freedom for $600.

But the owner of Denmark Vesey’s wife and children refused to sell, which further meant that any future children would also be slaves. Denmark Vesey sought hope in the Book of Exodus and taught it to the ever-growing congregation of the A.M.E. Church.

The whites became alarmed as the flock grew to more than 3,000 people. Denmark Vesey’s talk of the Israelites being delivered from slavery was taken as proof of a plot for a vast slave uprising. The supposed plan was to slaughter the slave-owners and sail off on commandeered ships to Haiti.

None of that had happened when Denmark Vesey and dozens of others were arrested in December 1821. They were tortured, and some ended up testifying against the others about a plot that might in fact never have existed. The trial was held in secret even from the defendants, who were denied the opportunity to hear the accusations against them.

Denmark Vesey and 34 other men were hanged. Many historians contend there were indeed plans for an uprising. Others have come to believe otherwise after a close examination of the trial transcript. They suggest that the trial was itself a scheme by a politician to capitalize on fears that a rebellion such as had swept Haiti would visit Charleston.

Whether the plot was fact or fiction, the only vengeful mob that materialized was the white one that burned the church to the ground. Brown fled to Philadelphia, where he became a bishop.

The congregation back in Charleston continued to worship, but in secret. They no doubt clung all the more fiercely to their faith on April 12, 1861, when cadets from the Citadel fired their cannons at Fort Sumter. Well-to-do whites of Charleston drank toasts from the harbor’s edge as the first shots of the Civil War echoed through the city.

Exodus seemed finally to come to America with the Emancipation Proclamation and the defeat of what had proclaimed itself to be the Confederate States of America. One of Denmark Vesey’s sons was present when the U.S. Army formally reclaimed Fort Sumter.

Robert Vesey then helped build a new A.M.E. Church, a two-story wood structure on Calhoun Street, just down from the Citadel, the cadets’ marching grounds having become the site of a postwar celebration by the city’s black majority. The church’s name grew to include Emanuel, a Hebrew word whose meaning reflected what had gotten the faithful to that point and would carry them through on into the future: “God with us.”

The church was leveled by an earthquake in 1872. Brick and marble rose to take its place and became known as “Mother Emanuel.” Its pulpit was visited by a succession of black leaders.

Booker T. Washington spoke there in 1902. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech in 1962 and said the vote was the key to achieving the American dream for all. A year after King’s assassination, his widow, Coretta Scott King, stood in a hospital worker’s blue-and-white paper hat and addressed a rally of those who wore it every day and were now attempting to unionize with the hope of earning more than $1.30 an hour.

And through the decades that followed, the faithful continued to come, described by Rev. Stephen Singleton in The Washington Post as “just God-fearing people. People who lived in modesty in light of the history of the congregation they called home.”

Singleton was pastor until 2010, when the honor was bestowed upon Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who is said by the church website to have “answered the call to preach” when he was just 13. Pinckney had been elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives when he was 23 and to the state Senate four years later. He continued to pass the Confederate flag flying out front whenever he entered the Statehouse.

On January 1, 2013, Pinckney led a service at Mother Emanuel marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“It’s not just an African-American celebration it’s an American celebration,” Pinckney announced from the pulpit. “It’s freedom come full circle.”

A measure of how far we have progressed came in February 2014, with the unveiling of a statue of Denmark Vesey in a Charlestown park. A measure of how far we still have to go came this past April, when an unarmed black man named Walter Scott was shot to death while running away from a white North Charleston cop named Michael Slager.

In the aftermath, Pinckney led a prayer vigil and assembled his fellow clergy to formulate a response. He delivered a memorable call to action in the Senate.

“Today, the nation looks at South Carolina and is looking at us to see if we will rise to be the body and to be the state that we really say that we are,” Pinckney told his fellow legislators.

On Wednesday evening, Pinckney was back at Mother Emanuel, leading his Bible study group. Dylann Roof entered, just 21, but having arrived in a sedan with the CSA vanity license plate that attested to the same centuries-old sickness of the spirit that had prompted Morris Brown to flee a segregated church and a white mob to burn the one he built and lead a kangaroo court to execute Denmark Vesey.

Roof’s strain of this sickness seems to have been so virulent and blinding that he could sit in this sacred place and not see the profound value of these people. He is alleged to have produced his birthday pistol and to have commenced shooting them one after another after another. He is said by one account to have reloaded five times, ignoring pleas for him to stop.

“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” he reportedly replied.

Eight were dead and a ninth was dying as Roof drove away in the car with the plate suggesting that in his ears the gunshots carried an echo of those long-ago shots fired at Fort Sumter. He was captured 240 miles away in North Carolina. He actually had a smirk as he was later led from a police station in handcuffs and a bulletproof vest.

From the White House, President Obama spoke of the obscenity of gun violence and of the sacredness of the church.

“Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church,” he said. “This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps.”

He seemed all the more markedly gray from the strain of making his own mark in history as the first black president. But he proved able to still be audacious in hope.

“The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome,” he said.


Charleston shooting part of long history of violence against churches

When 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into one of the oldest African-American churches in the South on Wednesday evening and opened fire on a Bible study group, he became part of a long legacy of violence against churches in the United States.

The connection between such brutality and the civil rights movement is perhaps most vividly personified by the “four little girls” killed in 1963 by a Ku Klux Klan bomb planted at their Sunday school in Birmingham, Alabama. But the mid-1990s also saw a resurgence of attacks on black churches in the South, mostly through arson.

"The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history."'

"The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history," President Obama said Thursday in remarks about the Charleston shooting. "This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked. And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals."

The most recent burning of a black church to make national headlines took place in Massachusetts on Nov. 5, 2008, the same night Americans elected their first black president, Barack Obama. Earlier this year, the Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy, who is black, was shot three times while planting Memorial Day flags outside his Hartford, Connecticut, church in an incident that investigators are looking into as a possible hate crime. Sealy survived the attack.

The Justice Department has opened a hate crime investigation into Wednesday’s shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. But violence against churches has not been limited to attacks on black congregants. According to the FBI’s most recent Hate Crime Statistics report, released last year, houses of worship made up 3.6% of 160 active shooter incidents between the years 2000 and 2013. There were no active shooter incidents at black churches during that period, the report states the churches mentioned are mostly white.

In 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was shot dead in the foyer of his Wichita, Kansas, church while handing out the bulletin. Scott Roeder, a white man, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Tiller, who was also white. Three years later in 2012, a white supremacist killed 6 people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin -- an incident which so far bears disturbing similarities to Wednesday’s shooting in Charleston.

Violence against churches strikes a particularly searing chord in the U.S., a nation founded on the principle of religious tolerance and where places of worship are valued as sacred ground for people to be at their most vulnerable. Churches are so ingrained in Charleston’s history and culture that it was nicknamed “The Holy City.”

“Charleston is called the Holy City for a reason,” said Pastor John Paul Brown of the Mt. Zion Church, nearby the site of Wednesday’s shooting. “To have that apprehension about the safety of churches, there’s just no way to lock every door and check everyone who comes in … You can’t say ‘I represent Christ, let me frisk you.’”

The historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, where the attack took place, is nearly 200 years old and no stranger to violence. In 1822, the church was burned to the ground after allegations members were involved in planning a slave revolt. The church was rebuilt in 1834 but was not formally reorganized until the end of the Civil War, when the South Carolina legislature no longer outlawed all-black churches.

In a statement, 2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Wednesday’s horrific shooting would be "especially painful for Christians because a holy place for peace and prayer has been infected and desecrated by demonic violence.”

"A church is called a sanctuary because it's a place of refuge and respite from the earthly and connects us to the heavenly,” Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, said. “The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. became a scene of unspeakable carnage because an evil person violated the sanctuary where earth and heaven meet and turned it into a place where earth and hell meet. No civilized person can react except with revulsion to such a senseless, cowardly, and despicable act. And for it to happen in one of America's truly great and gentile cities adds to the horror.”

At noon Thursday, a 5,732-pound church bell at the Christ Church Cathedral (CCC) in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, rang out for 10 minutes. The CCC on its website invited all churches with bells in St. Louis and across the nation to do the same in memory of those killed in Charleston.

Meanwhile, the pastor of the St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, said Thursday that a shot was fired at the building the night before, according to WREG. It was not clear if the incident took place before or after the shooting in Charleston, and investigators say there is nothing to indicate the two were connected. This time, no one was hurt.


Charleston shooting church has rich history from slave revolts to civil rights

T hey call it Mother Emanuel. Home to the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been a key part of the rich history of the American south, from slave revolts in the early 19th century to the civil rights movement.

“Where you are is a very special place in Charleston,” the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the attack on the church on Wednesday, told a group of doctoral students in 2013. “This site, this area, has been tied to the history and life of African Americans since the early 1800s.”

On Wednesday evening a new, bleak chapter in this rich history was written, when Pinckney and eight congregants were gunned down in cold blood at a basement Bible-study class.

The attack, which police are calling a hate crime, carries troubling echoes of the past.

“If [the shooter] was a white supremacist then he’s picked a target that’s incredibly symbolic in the black community. He’s hit at the very heart of it,” said Tim Lockley, a professor of American history at Warwick University who specialises in race relations.

Mother Emanuel was born into an era of violence. In 1822, just four years after the first church was built, a freed slave and carpenter named Denmark Vesey, one of the founders of the Emanuel church, was the ringleader of a vast planned slave insurrection known as “the rising”.

The Emanuel church as a wooden structure was built between 1865 and 1872, and was demolished by an earthquake in 1886. Photograph: Emanuel Church

Vesey and his alleged co-conspirators were betrayed and rounded up by Charleston authorities. The city convened a secret kangaroo court, and he and 34 others were swiftly hanged. Thirty more were deported, and white supremacists burned the old wooden church to the ground.

In 1834, the city of Charleston banned all-black churches. The congregation of Emanuel, which had been rebuilt since the Vesey trials, were forced to meet in secret until the end of the civil war.

After reconstruction, the congregation began to grow, and its importance for the black Christian community in Charleston grew along with it.

The Rev Clementa Pinckney speaks at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in 2012. Photograph: Randall Hill/Reuters

Booker T Washington spoke there in 1909 Dr Martin Luther King’s gave a speech at Emanuel there urging congregants to vote in 1962. In 1969, almost exactly a year after King’s death, his widow Coretta Scott King led a protest to the church 900 were arrested by the national guard.

Barack Obama said on Thursdau that he and his wife Michelle knew members of the Emanuel congregation, and that they knew the Rev Pinckney.

“Mother Emanuel is in fact more than a church,” the president said. “This is a place of worship that was founded by African-Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshippers worked to end slavery.”

“This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston, and the history of America,” he said.

Mother Emanuel has seen death, cruelty and despair. In his speech to the doctoral candidates, Pinckney said that the church was a “beacon, and a bearer of the culture, and a bearer of what makes us people”. Like America, he said, it was about freedom. “Freedom to worship … freedom to be all God intends you to be,” he said. “Sometimes you gotta make noise to do that.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you maybe have to die, like Denmark Vesey, to do that.”


Putting The Charleston Church Shooting In The Context Of History

Last night, in a horrific act of hateful violence, a white gunman shot and killed at least nine people at the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, immediately sparked outrage, with many wondering aloud how someone could commit such an act &mdash especially in a church, were the victims were attending a Bible study.

But while Wednesday&rsquos shooting is appalling, it&rsquos not the first time Emanuel A.M.E. has endured violence. The historically progressive church, which was founded in 1791, was burned to the ground in 1822 by white supremacists for its connection to an attempted slave revolt.

In fact, the assault on prayerful worshippers in Charleston is part of a long, bloody history of houses of worship being attacked for their beliefs, their progressive activism, or simply for who they are. There are too many incidents to list all of them in a single post, but we&rsquove listed a few &mdash both recent and historical &mdash below.

Sunday, September 15, 1963: 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is bombed using 16 sticks of dynamite, killing four girls and injuring 22 others.

In what is generally considered one of the darkest chapters of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the senseless murder of children at 16th Street Baptist Church rocked the country, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. calling it &ldquoone of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity&rdquo in his eulogy for the victims. But while it was arguably the worst attack of its kind, it was hardly the first: Properties and churches owned and by African Americans in Birmingham endured at least 21 separate explosions in the eight years before 1963, leading some to dub the city &ldquoBombingham.&rdquo

Investigators eventually concluded the attack was committed by four members of the Ku Klux Klan, but prosecutions did not begin until 1977.

July 27, 2008: A lone gunman opens fire on a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two and wounding seven. The shooter said he targeted the church because of its liberal teachings.

According to the Associated Press, Jim D. Adkisson, a 58-year-old truck driver &ldquoon the verge of losing his food stamps,&rdquo entered Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church while parishioners were gathered to watch the congregation&rsquos youth perform the musical &ldquoAnnie.&rdquo He then pulled out a shotgun and opened fire, leaving behind a note that police officials said expressed hatred of &ldquothe liberal movement &hellip as well as gays.&rdquo A longtime acquaintance said he also hated &ldquoblacks, gays and anyone different from him.&rdquo

Adkisson eventually pled guilty to killing two and wounding six others, telling the judge, &ldquoYes, ma&rsquoam, I am guilty as charged.&rdquo

Sunday, May 24, 2015: A pastor is shot outside a church in Hartford, Connecticut, in what police described as a possible hate crime because of the church&rsquos pro-LGBT views.

According to BuzzFeed, Rev. Augustus Sealy, 54, was shot outside Hartford First Church of the Nazarene around 6:30 a.m. while placing flags in front of the sanctuary in honor of Memorial Day. Police reports say that a vehicle slowly rolled up alongside Sealy before someone in the car fired five gunshots. Sealy survived the shooting, but one bullet struck him in the shoulder, and two hit his leg.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley told BuzzFeed: &ldquoSome language used in the incident &mdash and given where it was, in front of a church known to be accepting of our LGBT community &mdash it led us to have concern that this is a hate crime.&rdquo

August 5, 2012: An armed white supremacist storms a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, shooting six people and wounding four others before committing suicide.

Wade Michael Page, 40, entered the Sikh gurdwara armed with a semi-automatic pistol, where he killed one woman and five men, including an assistant priest. Page, an Army veteran with ties to several white supremacist groups, also wounded an officer before turning his gun on himself.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident as an example of domestic terrorism, and then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder later declared the attack to be &ldquoan act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.&rdquo

April 13, 2014: A Neo-Nazi shoots and kills three people in two separate attacks outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish retirement community.

The first shooting occurred outside the community center, where people were auditioning for a singing competition and staff were preparing for a performance of To Kill a Mockingbird. The gunman, 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., fired several shots at the building and bystanders before escaping by car to Village Shalom. There, he fired a shotgun at Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Griffin Underwood. Both men succumbed to their wounds, as did another woman, Terry LaManno, who was also shot.

Miller, who was also a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, later said that while none of his victims turned out to be Jewish, he launched the attack &ldquofor the specific purpose of killing Jews.&rdquo The American Jewish community consistently reports more religiously-motivated hate crimes than any other faith group in the country, according to statistics collected by the FBI.

1995&ndash1996: A series of church fires rock the South, with 37 black churches falling victim to &ldquosuspicious fires&rdquo in 18 months.

According to a June 16 Washington Post report on a federal investigation of a string of arsons in the mid-1990s, &ldquoThe people burning down black churches in the South are generally white, male and young, usually economically marginalized or poorly educated, frequently drunk or high on drugs, rarely affiliated with hate groups, but often deeply driven by racism, according to investigators and a review of those arrested or convicted in the burnings.&rdquo

The ATF also noted that 23 predominantly white churches were burned during this same time period. The sheer volume of the incidents collectively spurred the House of Representatives to pass legislation to assist federal officials wishing to prosecute the arsonists. The House made it a federal offense to damage religious property simply because of its &ldquoracial or ethnic character,&rdquo and then-President Bill Clinton also asked Congress for an extra $12 million for investigations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014: A gunman fires five shots at a mosque in Coachella, California.

At 5:01 a.m. on November 4, an unknown gunman fired several shots at the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley mosque near Los Angeles. The FBI investigated the attack as a possible hate crime, and while no one was hurt, the incident was part of a steadily increasing wave of attacks and suspicious fires enacted against Muslim houses of worship in the United States. This included the murder of a Muslim teen in Kansas City, and at least two mosque burnings over the last two years.

These are but a few examples from the long list of attacks on houses of worship throughout American history. Yet this list doesn&rsquot even include incidents where individual congregants were targeted instead of communities, such as the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller while he attended church in Wichita, Kansas, and the shooting of Alberta King, Martin Luther King, Jr.&rsquos mother, while she played the organ in 1974.

Countless worship spaces have also been threatened or vandalized for various reasons over the years, such as four Presbyterian churches in Missouri that received bomb threats earlier this year after their denomination voted to allow pastors to officiate same-sex marriages. Some churches have stepped up security measures, and lawmakers in Georgia has made it legal to carry guns into church, even as many faith leaders openly oppose such policies.

Taken together, the attack in Charleston is a tragic reminder that American houses of worship, which are supposed to be havens for peace and sanctuary, are all too often sites of hatred, violence, and death.


Racism Can't Destroy This Charleston Church

Robert Greene II is a PhD student at the University of South Carolina in the Department of History. There he studies twentieth century U.S. history, the history of the American South and African American history.

The horrific attack Wednesday evening on Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first most Americans had ever heard of the house of worship, but to residents of South Carolina, it’s one of the city’s great institutions—existing in some form since 1816—despite numerous attempts to destroy it.

The shootings, carried out during a Bible Study class, reflect the bloody intersection of race and religion in American society. That it took place at Emanuel AME is only a magnification of those issues. That is took place in Charleston was symbolic of the city’s representation of the entire nation’s long, sordid history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation and white supremacy.

The creation of the Emanuel AME church in 1816 was a response to Charleston’s importance as one of the largest ports for slave trading in North America. While the United States formally ended the importation of slaves in 1808, the legacy of trading Africans allowed Charleston to keep its impressive economic and political power for decades to come. The history of Emanuel itself is a reflection of the history of African Americans in Charleston and across the state of South Carolina. As just one example, in 1822 the church itself was part of a larger conspiracy, allegedly spearheaded by church co-founder Denmark Vesey, to spark a massive slave uprising in South Carolina. After the plot was discovered, the church was burned down.

Here is the start of a familiar narrative for Emanuel AME—a moment of crisis and defeat before a rebirth. The church was rebuilt and would remain open until 1834—when, due to increased fears of slave revolts in South Carolina, all black churches in the state were banned. Nonetheless, the black parishioners continued to meet in secret, all the way until 1865 and the end of the Civil War. Against the maelstrom of Reconstruction and the first, tentative taste of democracy for African Americans, Emanuel (which means “God with us”) was adopted as the formal name for the church, and a new building went up in 1872.

Once again the church was forced to rebuild after the devastating 1886 earthquake that laid waste to most of Charleston. The members of Emanuel AME were already faced with the prospect of reduced political power in South Carolina by the late 1880s, due to the rise of the “Red Shirts” in 1876, who destroyed the remnants of Republican rule in the state. So while the members of Emanuel AME physically rebuilt their church, they were also well aware that the intellectual and political rebuilding of what the church represented—a beacon of freedom and power for African Americans in Charleston and throughout South Carolina—would take far longer.

Throughout the twentieth century Emanuel AME remained a potent symbol for African Americans in Charleston. Martin Luther King’s 1962 speech at Emanuel was the start of a voter registration drive in South Carolina. Later, Coretta Scott King’s appearance at the church in 1969, as part of the Charleston Hospital Strike, galvanized African Americans who supported the creation of a public sector union at Charleston County Hospital. While the resulting strike failed to gain the support for the union—collective bargaining by state workers was, and is to this day, illegal in South Carolina—it was a reminder of how important Emanuel AME remained for African-Americans.

The modern leadership of the church by Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in this week’s shooting, was a further reminder of both Emanuel’s power as a symbol, and its genuine place of leadership in Charleston’s African American community. The Reverend Pinckney, also a South Carolina State Senator, led the effort to pass legislation in South Carolina designed to make sure that every officer in the state wore a body camera. This was, of course, in response to the most recent example of racial strife in Charleston: the April 2014 shooting of Walter Scott by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager. Charleston, as with Ferguson and Baltimore, became a symbol of America’s long history of racial division.

It has not been reported whether or not Wednesday’s attacker Dylann Roof purposefully chose Emanuel AME for its long history. But it would be surprising if he was unaware of its legacy. Regardless, the members of Emanuel AME will do what they have always done before: rise about terror and horror, and do the best they can for a better, brighter tomorrow.


Watch the video: Πυροβολισμοί σε γυμνάσιο στη Νότια Καρολίνα -1 μαθητής τραυματίας, αναζητείται ο δράστης. ΚΟΣΜΟΣ