From The Wall Street Journal:
Charleston Church Shooting: City Struggles to Make Sense of Tragedy
‘There’s a sadness in the air…a wave of pain has washed over us,’ laments a resident
By Cameron McWhirter and Mara Gay |June 20, 2015 12:26 p.m. ET
CHARLESTON, S.C.—Three days after a 21-year-old white man allegedly gunned down nine people in a historic African-American church, residents in the city are struggling to make sense of the tragedy, while mourning the victims.“The city’s not the same,” said artist Georgette Wright Sanders as she sat beside a table displaying her pottery and baskets for sale at the Marion Square farmers’ market in the heart of old Charleston. “You can tell there’s a sadness in the air. It’s as though a wave of pain has washed over us.”
Ms. Wright Sanders, who is black and lives in nearby McClellanville, S.C., likened the killings to an act of terrorism, and said she felt it was her duty to show up to the market as she does most weekends during the spring and summer. “It’s hard to be here today, but if we don’t move on and heal, and live our lives, they win.”
Dylann Roof, of Eastover, S.C., is in custody and has been charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Mr. Roof didn’t enter a plea during his court appearance on Friday.
Overnight, an impromptu vigil was held outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the killings occurred, drawing a large, racially diverse crowd. People sang African-American spirituals, while a few danced beside a growing memorial filled with flowers, Teddy bears and notes that read, “We love you,” among other tributes.
At the College of Charleston’s TD Arena Friday night, hundreds gathered to listen to several speakers honor the nine people who lost their lives Wednesday night.
Mayor Joseph Riley, the city’s longtime white mayor, called for healing, telling the large and diverse crowd that, “If that young man thought he was going to divide this country, he miserably failed.”
There’s a lot more at he original.
Dylann Roof, the killer, was apprehended within a day, extradited back to South Carolina, and has already appeared before a judge. And that’s where the funny thing happened: the families of some of the victims stood up in the hearing and publicly forgave Mr Roof:
Charleston church shooter hears victim’s kin say, ‘I forgive you’
By Ralph Ellis, Greg Botelho and Ed Payne, CNN | Updated 10:58 PM ET, Fri June 19, 2015 | Video Source: CNN
(CNN)Dylann Roof heard words of forgiveness from families of some of the nine people he’s accused of killing.
His response: A blank expression.
Wearing a striped inmate jumpsuit, the 21-year-old appeared Friday afternoon by video feed at a bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina. He stood motionless while listening to the anguished words of relatives of victims he gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”
Felicia Sanders — mother of victim Tywanza Sanders and a survivor of the church shooting herself — said that “every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same.”
“As we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you,” she said of Roof. “But may God have mercy on you.”
And in that, the Christian families, exhibiting the best of Christian forgiveness, totally disarmed the Reverend Al Sharpton and the rest of the race hustlers who would have liked to make the Charleston massacre the catalyst for more race riots.
The people of Charleston, white and black alike, united in peaceful mourning after this tragedy. Now, why do you suppose that happened?
Well, one reason is that the victims were all devout Christians, and their families are Christians, who acted as Christians are suppose to act. Another is that there is no ambiguity here: the victims were all innocent victims, clearly innocent victims, rather than wannabe thugs and gang bangers like Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. White Americans, for the very most part, reacted in just as much horror at the Charleston massacre as did black Americans, because white Americans want to see peaceful racial relations and justice done just as much as black Americans.
And thus there is no racial divide here: both white Americans and black Americans abhor senseless murders, and both white Americans and black Americans want and expect Mr Roof to face justice for his crime.1 This is no situation in which the “victims” were criminals, who were killed while assaulting police officers or who died in transport, this is no situation in which the victims were thugs who ended up on the short side of thug life. This is a situation in which the killer and his victims were judged not on the colors of their skins but on the contents of their characters.
I am reminded here of the reaction of the parents of Matthew Shepard. After the trial in which Aaron McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder,2 Mr Shepard’s parents brokered a deal, resulting in McKinney’s receiving two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole; Mr Shepard’s father said that this was to show “mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.”3 The forgiveness shown by some of the victims’ families might well result in Mr Roof avoiding a capital sentence for his crime.
And so, what has Dylann Roof actually accomplished? He (supposedly) said that he wanted to start a race war, but he has brought black and white Americans together instead. I suppose that he thought himself some sort of brave race war soldier, but he was arrested without incident and is now looking at spending the rest of his life — and at 21 years of age, he could have been looking at another sixty years or so of life and freedom and perhaps happiness — behind bars, in a racially integrated prison where he’ll be constantly looking over his shoulder wondering, is that the prisoner who’s going to choke him to death.
Mr Roof was not a very smart guy. He had to try to repeat the ninth grade, and wound up dropping out of school. He came from a broken home, he was unemployed, apparently didn’t want a job, and was a drug user who sat and played vidiot games all day long. He was a loser in every sense of the word. He now has his fifteen minutes of fame, but, soon enough, he’ll fall quietly out of sight, another wasted life in prison.
The families of some of his victims prayed that Mr Roof would find Jesus Christ while in prison, and perhaps he will be able to save his eternal soul, but he’ll never see another day of his life when he isn’t behind bars.
- Standard journalistic style specifies that Mr Roof, not yet having been convicted, should have his actions referred to as “alleged,” but he has apparently admitted his guilt, and we will not bother with the “alleged” part of the story here. ↩
- The second killer, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty in exchange for two consecutive life sentences, avoiding the death penalty. ↩
- Cart, Julie (November 5, 1999). “Killer of Gay Student Is Spared Death Penalty; Courts: Matthew Shepard’s father says life in prison shows “mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.””. Los Angeles Times. p. A1. ↩