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Religious Tolerance logo

Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC

Part 3 of 11: 2015-JUN-19 to 22:
Bond hearing held for accused
perpetrator. Multiple marches
to protest
Church massacre in
Charleston, SC
. Efforts to remove
the Confederate flag from the SC
Capitol grounds. 2014 public
opinion poll about rebel flag.

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This topic is continued from Part 2

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2015-JUN-19: Bond hearing held for Dylann Roof:

Some surviving family members of those murdered during the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were able to attend the bond hearing where they saw the accused killer, Dylann Roof via closed-circuit television.

Nikita Stewart & Richard Perez-Pena wrote for the New York Times, saying

"It was as if the Bible study had never ended as one after another, victims’ family members offered lessons in forgiveness, testaments to a faith that is not compromised by violence or grief. They urged him to repent, confess his sins, and turn to God." 1

Nadine Collier, the daughter of murder victim Ethel Lance, said:

"You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul." 1

Felicia Sanders, the mother of murder victim Tywanza Sanders, said:

"We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. Tywanza Sanders is my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But as we say in Bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you." 1

Governor Nikki R. Haley (R) referred to the shootings as a hate crime. She called for the death penalty. 1

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2015-JUN-20: Multiple marches held on JUN-18 to 20:

A series of small marches were held on Thursday and Friday, emphasizing faith, healing and civic unity. A large march was organized on Saturday when hundreds of people -- mostly White -- marched to protest the massacre:

They marched to Charleston's Confederate Museum., chanting "Black lives matter." Marchers held signs critical of white supremacy and racist-motivated terrorism.

Daniel Dale, writing for the Toronto Star, said:

" 'It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win,' marchers chanted. A white woman carried a small sign that read 'White supremacy is killing us.'' Another white woman held a small sign that read 'Stop white terrorism'." 2

2

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photo of confederate flag in fromt of the capitol dome About the Confederate Flag (a.k.a. Rebel Flag) and its history:

The church killings reignited a controversy over the the Confederate Flag which is located beside the state Capitol building in Columbia, SC. The controversy quickly spread to other states in the South.

It is sometimes referred to as the Confederate Battle Flag, the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia, the Confederate flag, the Rebel flag, the Dixie Flag, or the Southern cross. It was designed by William Porcher Miles, the chairman of the Flag and Seal committee. It was first unfurled in battle by the cavalry of General P.G.T. Beauregard, after they captured Manassas, VA, during the first Battle of Bull Run. After the Civil War, (a.k.a. the War of Northern Agression, and the War Between the States,) it was used to commemorate the approximatel 258,000 Confederate soldiers who died during the war.

  • In 1948, Senator Strom Thermond's States' Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag to symbolze its defiance of the Federal Government and its civil rights legislation, which started the process of reducing discrimination on the basis of race -- a process which is still ongoing.

  • In 1956, Georgia adopted a version of the Battle Flag as a protest against the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This decision in 1954 declared legislation that racially segregated public schools in the South and elsewhere to be unconstitutional. It was found to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is the Amendment that requires the federal, state, and local governments to treat people equally and not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Violation of the 14th Amdendment was also the reason why the High Court overturned miscgenation laws in 1967. That involved the case Loving v. Virginia that legalized interracial marriage across the country. It is the also the basic argument involved in the Overgefell v. Hodges case which seeks the legalization of marriage by same-sex couples throughout the U.S.

  • In 1961, Governor George Wallace ordered the flag to be flown on the Alabama legislature grounds.

  • In 1961, the flag was installed over the state capitol building in South Carolina where it remained for 15 years until it was relocated to the nearby South
    Carolina Confederate Monument
    which is a memorial to the soldiers who died in the civil war.

Rebel flag    rebel flag 8

The rebel flag on the left side of the
South Carolina Confederate Monument
The flag and monument shown in
front of the S.C. State House

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2015-JUN-22: Governor Haley called for removal of Confederate flag:

The Confederate flag was placed on the State House dome on 1961-APR-11 for the opening of the Civil War centennial. It was displayed there for 15 years until legislation was passed to moved to a flagpole in front of the Confederate War Memorial adjacent to the State House. The memorial honors Confederate soldiers who died during the civil war. The U.S. and South Carolina flags are the only flags that are now shown on the State House dome.

Eugene Robinson, a columnist at the Washington Post, asked during an interview on Meet the Press on June 21:

"Do you know when that flag was first flown at the ... statehouse in Columbia? 1961 … it was a middle finger directed at the federal government. It was flown there as a symbol of massive resistance to racial desegregation. Period.

It was only after [the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in] Brown vs. Board, after Little Rock, after desegregation began, that South Carolinians put up the flag on the statehouse, [and] that other states in the South adopted the battle flag as part of their state flags. So it was massive resistance." 3

The most recent previous governor to ask that the flag be removed was David Beasley. He was:

"... hounded out of office in 1998 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, effectively ending his political career." 4

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) held a press conference on JUN-22. She announced that she had reversed her previous opinion and is now calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. She said that anyone is still free to fly the flag on their own property, however:

"The statehouse is different. This is South Carolina’s statehouse. It is South Carolina’s historic moment. ... We are not going to allow this symbol to divide up any longer. The fact that people are continuing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds. It is after all, a capitol that belongs to all of us." 5

Senator Paul Campbell (R) said:

"It’s appropriate. The Confederate memorial is there for a reason. We need to celebrate those people because its part of our history. When it’s abused by jerks like Roof, then you have to look at it from a different perspective." 5

He said that South Carolinians look upon the flag as representing "history and heritage." However, the shooting and Roof’s use of the flag had forever altered its image.

The state House and Senate concluded their session, and started a special session on JUN-23. To change the agenda for that session to include a vote on the flag would take a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate. Some media sources state that a vote to remove the flag from the capitol grounds would also require a two-thirds super majority vote. However, it would appear that a simple repeal of the 1976 law would suffice. That would require only a simple majority vote.

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Public opinion poll:

The Winthrop Poll conducted surveyed public opinion about the Confederate flag in mid-2014-NOV. They found that:

  • 61% of those surveyed wanted the flag to remain at the capital grounds; 33% want it removed; 6% have no opinion or didn't respond to the question.

  • Among SC Whites, 73% want to retain the flag.

  • Among SC Black, 61% want it taken down. 6

Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop poll said:

"That’s a divide that most people expected. The debate over the flag is carried on by people at the extremes. Some see it as a living testament, paying respect to slavery. Other see it as a point of honor, honoring the (Confederate army) dead. 6

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This topic continues in Part 4

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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. Nikita Stewart & Richard Perez-Pena, "In Charleston, Raw Emotion at Hearing for Suspect in Church Shooting," New York Times, 2015-JUN-19, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  2. Daniel Dale, "Hundreds of white Charleston marchers protest racist terror near Confederate Museum," Toronto Star, 2015-JUN-21, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  3. Anna Bruzgulis, "Confederate flag wasn't flown at South Carolina statehouse until 1961, pundit claims," PunditFact, 2015-JUN-22, at: http://www.politifact.com/
  4. "Confederate flag has been contentious for decades." Toronto Star, 2015-JUN-23, at: http://www.pressreader.com/
  5. Jeremy Borden & Mark Berman, "S.C. Gov. Haley calls for removal of Confederate flag near the state Capitol," The Washington Post, 2015-JUN-22, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  6. Jamie Self, "EXCLUSIVE: Confederate flag still divides whites, blacks in SC, Winthrop poll finds," 2014-NOV-22, at: http://www.thestate.com/
  7. "How many soldiers died during the civil war," Civil War Preservation Trust, undated, at: http://www.civilwar.org/

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

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

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-JUN-19
Last updated 2015-JUN-25
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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