His name is Dylann Roof and because of him, I’m having to rewrite the lead. My initial few lines described the getaway car, a 2000 black Hyundai Elantra sedan, license number, LGF 330. Roof has been caught in Shelby, North Carolina. He’s 5’9″ tall and weighs but 120 lbs. He hails from Lexington, South Carolina. He hates black people and just killed 3 black men and 6 black women in a church setting Wednesday night. He probably used a .45 gift gun purchased by his father for his 21st birthday. Repeating, he’s been caught some 200 miles from the scene of the crime.
The president is giving a heartfelt condolence address on CNN as I work on this piece. He knew several people from the church including the pastor and State Senator, Clementa Pinckney. President Obama issued a rather strong gun control statement and recognized the continuing racial divide.
The gun control reference is moot in today’s society. In fact, in another boon to membership, the NRA should greatly benefit from the latest extraordinarily inhumane act to take place at the end of a gun barrel. Yes, there’s been yet another mass murder in America. This was a racial hate crime.
As you first read in Jason Easley’s account (does this man ever sleep?), the unspeakable murders took place at 9PM, Wednesday, in Charleston, South Carolina’s iconic Mother Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church, founded in 1816 as a secret church for slaves. The church was subsequently burned down. The modern day Mother Emanuel is one of the most revered and historically significant churches in the region. All the victims were black. There is now virtually no question that Roof was the killer. His uncle recognized him from a church video. Reuters reported that after sitting with the group for about an hour, Roof reportedly began his deadly spree, telling each victim he was killing them because they were black. He let one attendee live to tell the story of his hateful act.
Church is the foundation and anchor of the black community. It’s a place where all who attend are welcome and respected. It matters not whether you’re religious, it’s a fact that great numbers of African-Americans are, and the church is their hugely meaningful home away from home, ostensibly away from white repression, legislative persecution, political Republican hate speech and racism. But not away from the continuing scourge of gun obsession and violence that is the United States. Not even in the supposedly safe sanctuary of a church.
The video of Roof is at the church entrance (see Easley story) and there’s an older picture of the suspect wearing a jacket with a South African Apartheid badge making the Internet rounds.
Roof is undoubtedly mentally disturbed. Who knows what gruesome, senseless tale will follow his capture? The beginning of an organized movement? Mental connectivity twisted beyond repair? A lone actor? What we do know is that there will be nine funerals years before their time, and hundreds, maybe thousands, of grieving family members, friends, fellow churchgoers and just plain folks who care.
For the record, it is not legal to carry a gun into a church in South Carolina. It’s not that legislators haven’t tried. Here’s a ThinkProgress story of one such effort a few years ago. The prime mover of the attempt to get guns into churches and day-care centers of all places, was Republican Thad Viers, who later left the legislature in disgrace after pleading guilty to a federal count of money laundering.
Ironically, Senator/Pastor Pinckney had a great interest in improving conditions for the state’s prison population and served on the Corrections and Penology Committee. None of us know at this point, but I’m guessing his killer did not have a record of serious crimes. To neighbors and acquaintances, he was likely considered a nice, albeit quiet, guy. But, as I indicated, we simply don’t know as yet.
Expect a huge push for membership and “guns in churches” legislation by the NRA. Why not turn that 9 figure into 19? That’s what always happens after these horrific events as the NRA immediately goes on the offense to avoid any reality that their organization and the legislatures that bow to their every demand, are contributing to disintegrating any semblance of respect worldwide.
While Republicans absurdly point to the president as being the central figure in other country’s dislike of the U.S. one need only look at the daily newspaper for the real reason. Today, my local paper included the story of a four-year-old accidentally shooting himself to death with his mother’s gun stowed in a purse accessible to the child.
If Adam Lanza’s demented Sandy Hook murders of 20 precious children (and 6 adults) couldn’t move the national conscience needle to the common sense strengthening of gun laws, I assure you, nothing will.
The South Carolina House passed a bill a few months ago that eliminated the requirement to acquire a concealed carry permit to own a firearm. Quite simply that meant that you need know nothing about a gun to own one. No required safety courses, no knowledge of what a safety does or even where it’s located. Law enforcement persuaded a Senate subcommittee to hide this ugly nonsense for the remainder of the session.
It’s a good thing Roof is in custody. I’ve previously written of my fears that the black community, however quiet it may appear, is at the tipping point. I’ve written of going to an issues conference and attending a panel on black, white and police relations. I heard a black man in attendance say, “If you keep shooting us, we’re going to shoot you.”
And with a core of black men being essentially trained in prison to deal with the ongoing white hatred and repression, this is not an empty threat. White racist attitudes had the power of changing the political power dynamic of the South from Democratic dominance to racially hate-fueled Republican total control. All because a Democratic president finally pushed for the same civil rights for blacks that whites have taken for granted forever. Yes, there is a deep-seated black rage rising to the top.
I offer sincere, sympathy, as does my family, to the black community for this latest atrocity. The KKK as a visual entity has all but disappeared. As a symbolic entity of the continuing hatred of blacks by a majority of the Republican Party, the Klan mindset thrives. Roof, sadly, is not an exception in his extremism.
This is not a divisive submission. This is a real world warning of what is surely to evolve into something ongoing and terrifying. It was certainly mandatory to get Roof off the streets, but his evil deed should have never have happened in the first place. When Australia went through the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, legislators acted immediately under the leadership of conservative Prime Minister John Howard, to control guns. Fatalities plummeted. The firearms homicide rate fell 59 percent, while suicides by firearms plunged 65 percent in the decade after gun legislation was introduced.
Virtually everybody in Australia got the message. Will Americans?
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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