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Religious Tolerance logo

Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC,
and the resultant impacts of the event.

Part 11 of 11: 2015-OCT until now:
More about flag symbols on car licenses.
Trial of Dylann Roof.

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This topic is continued from Part 10

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2015-OCT: More about custom license places with Confederate flags:

At the time of the church massacre in Charleston, SC, nine states sold Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty car license plates.

The organization might have to change its name in the near future. They maintain a national data base of actual sons of Confederate veterans which numbered only 48 elderly men in 2001. 1

The plates display a symbol of the group. It includes a small red and blue confederate flag on the left side of the plate similar to the following.

A typical custom license plate looks like this:

license plate

Eight of the nine states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia were former members of the Confederate States of America.

The remaining state, Maryland, stayed in the Union.

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2015-OCT-19: U.S. District Court allows Maryland to recall custom plates:

Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the U.S. District Court of Maryland  lifted an 18 year old court injunction. It had required the state to continue distributing Sons of Confederate Veterans' license plates on the grounds of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. However, in view of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June that ruled the contents of license plates to be government speech, Judge Garbis determined that the Government of Maryland is now free to control the language that appears on its licenses. The plates will be phased out starting on 2015-NOV-17.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) issued a statement saying:

"I look forward to the day when these plates are no longer on the road. This flag is a painful symbol that divides us, conjuring images of hate and subjugation. It has no place in any contemporary government use." 2

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2016-JUL-10: Confederate flag returns to South Carolina capitol, for an hour:

The South Carolina Secessionist Party wants the state to leave the United States and become a separate country. Some of its members raised the Confederate flag over the South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC. It was taken down about an hour later. 3

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2016-NOV-28: Dylann Roof is ruled competent to defend himself at federal trial:

During the week of NOV-20, Dylann Roof, 22 was judged to be competent to stand trial in federal court for the murder of nine people in a Bible study class at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC during 2015-JUN. 5 He has been charged with 33 federal charges, including one hate crime account. He has also been charged in a state court with nine counts of murder.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that he did not adopt his radical beliefs:

"... through his personal associations or experiences with white supremacist groups or individuals or others."

Rather, he was "self-radicalized" by extensively reading white supremacist beliefs on the Internet. They allege that he adopted the belief that:

"... violent action is necessary to fight for white people and achieve white supremacy ... and that the choice of targets and execution of violent action should be conducted in a manner that promotes these objectives, to include publicizing the reasons for those actions to inspire others to engage in violent action to further white supremacy." 4

Roof requested that he be allowed to represent himself at his trial in federal court. US District Judge Richard Gergel said to Roof:

"I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation. I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it is a decision you have the right to make." 5

On NOV-28, the process of selecting a dozen jurors in federal court from 516 potential jurors began. 5

Earlier in 2016, The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report 6 that the Internet is an ideal venue for "lone wolves" like Roof. Their report said:

"White supremacists are increasingly opting to operate mainly online, where the danger of public exposure and embarrassment is far lower, where younger people tend to gather, and where it requires virtually no effort or cost to join in the conversation." 7

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More developments are expected in the future.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Greg Garrison, "Are there people alive now whose fathers fought in the Civil War?," Alabama Media Group, 2015-JUL-09, at:
  2. Kenrya Rankin Naasel "Maryland is Third State to Ban Confederate Flag from License Plates." Color Lines, 2015-OCT-19, at:
  3. Christopher Spata, "The Confederate Flag Was Raised Over the South Carolina Capitol Again," Complex Media, 2016-JUL-10, at:
  4. "Prosecutors say Dylann Roof ‘self-radicalized’ online, wrote another manifesto in jail," The Muslim Times, 2-16-AUG-23, at:
  5. "Charleston massacre accused Dylann Roof to defend himself," BBC News, 2016-NOV-28, at:
  6. Mark Potok, "The Year in Hate and Extremism," Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016-FEB-17, at:
  7. Mark Berman, "Prosecutors say Dylann Roof 'self-radicalized' online, wrote another manifesto in jail," The Washington Post, 2016-AUG-22, at:

Site navigation: Home > Religious violence > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs... > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Copyright © 2015 & 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2016-NOV-29
Last updated 2016-NOV-29
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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