The son of one of the victim’s of the Charleston church shooting was drafted to a major league baseball team almost two years to the day of the tragedy. The Chicago Cubs nabbed Chris Singleton in the 19th round of the draft last Wednesday. He played baseball at Charleston Southern University. His mother, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and eight other people were gunned down in 2015 by Dylann Roof inside Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“We certainly understand and have deep sympathy for his backstory, but what I want to make sure doesn’t get lost is that this guy’s a really good baseball player,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ senior vice president of scouting and player development. “We had him evaluated really as a top-10-round-caliber talent.”
Roof was sentenced to death ealier this year after being convicted of federal murder and hate crimes in the Charleston massacre. He pleaded guilty to state charges in April, clearing the way for his federal imprisonment on death row to begin.
On The Anniversary Of Charleston Massacre Singleton posted on Twitter after the draft, using the hashtag #CantLetMomsDown. He described his mother as ”a God-fearing woman (who) loved everybody with all her heart.“ If everyone loved the way she did, he said, hate wouldn’t have a chance.”
Jurors in Charleston, South Carolina, found Dylann Roof guilty this afternoon (December 15) of all charges for killing nine Black parishioners at the city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last year. Roof, who demonstrated White supremacist beliefs, faced 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and weapons offenses.
Charleston’s The Post and Courier reports that the three Black and nine White federal jurors deliberated for two hours before delivering guilty verdicts for each charge. About 50 survivors and family members of those murdered sat in the courtroom as the jury foreman read the verdict. CNN reports that jurors asked to re-watch video of Roof’s confession to FBI agents during today’s deliberations.
They were particularly interested in a part where he wasn’t sure how many people he killed. They heard arguments and testimony over the last week, including a witness whose son was killed. The jurors also watched video of Roof laughing after he admitted to the massacre. Roof did not testify.
The man accused of killing nine Black parishioners at the historic Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. was indicted on federal hate crime charges Wednesday, the New York Times reports.
Dylann Roof, 21, was also indicted on other charges, including killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, a charge eligible for the death penalty.
Roof, who admitted to police he killed the nine people attending a prayer meeting because they were Black, was already facing nine counts of murder in state court, but the Justice Department said “the shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it,” the Times writes. In fact, as pointed out by Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday, South Carolina does not have hate crime laws, backing the reasoning for federal charges.
A grand jury was expected to return a federal indictment on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how that indictment would affect the state prosecution. The Justice Department has the option to delay its case and wait to see how the state case ends before deciding whether to proceed with a second trial. Under federal law, a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.
Authorities have linked Mr. Roof to a racist Internet manifesto and said he was in contact with white supremacist groups before his attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He was photographed holding a Confederate flag and a handgun.
“I have no choice,” the manifesto reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
In all, Roof was indicted by a grand jury on 33 federal counts. His tentative trial is set for July 11, 2016.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a historic bill Thursday that will remove the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol grounds, where it has been a source of friction for more than half a century.
Haley’s signature ends the fighting over the flag, seen as an emblem of Southern heritage by some but condemned as a symbol of racial oppression by others.
The flag flew over the dome of South Carolina’s Capitol in 1961 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the war — and stayed as a protest to the civil rights movement that shattered Jim Crow segregationist laws across the South. After protests from civil rights leaders, the battle flag was moved in 2000 from the dome to its current location on the Capitol’s front lawn.
Haley said the flag will “come down with dignity” at 10 a.m. Eastern time Friday. The banner will be taken to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum for display.
“The Confederate flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse,” Haley told the overflow crowd. “We will bring it down with dignity and we will make sure it is stored in its rightful place.”
Haley had called for removal of the flag in the wake of the June 17 massacre of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston. A white man, Dylann Roof, who had apparently espoused racist ideologies and who had been photographed with Confederate symbols, is being held on nine murder counts and other charges.
Relatives of those slain at the church were among those in the racially diverse crowd who watched the governor use several pens to sign the legislation, whose passage was all but impossible before the church shootings. The governor praised the dead for changing the debate about the flag and race relations. “These nine pens are going to the families of the Emanuel Nine,” Haley said after signing the bill into law. “Nine amazing individuals who have forever changed South Carolina history.
In a 37-3 vote, the South Carolina Senate decided to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds. But the physical act of removing the flag may take some time, NBC notes.
The movement to take down the flag has two more hurdles: The bill needs to pass with a two-thirds vote in the South Carolina House, which is likely to be a tougher struggle than in the Senate. Several powerful House Republicans, including Speaker Jay Lucas, have not yet said how they’ll vote. If the bill passes the house, it would head to the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said the flag’s removal would be a way to honor the nine black victims gunned down by a white gunman at a Charleston church.
This is a developing story…
Weeks after a gunman shot nine people in a racially fueled attack on Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME church, South Carolina lawmakers are set to debate whether to remove the Confederate battle flag from State House grounds, or leave it flying high.
In a weekend interview with NBC’s Today Show, Haley said the removal would be an action of respect.
“You always want to think that today is better than yesterday — that we’re growing as a state, we’re growing as a country. When something like this happens, you reflect, and you say: Have we changed enough?” she said.
“I don’t think this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless, but I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly.”
According to the New York Times, the State Senate, composed of other elected officials who stand with Haley, will consider a bipartisan proposal to remove the flag.
If the Senate approves the measure, the debate will shift to the House; Republicans control both chambers. A survey of lawmakers by The Associated Press, the South Carolina Press Association, and The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, found last month that there was most likely enough support in the legislature to approve the plan.
There are, however, dissenters, the Times points out.
“This flag is a part of our heritage, so the people of this state should have the final say,” Mr. Bright, a Republican of Spartanburg County, told supporters on Facebook on Wednesday. Mr. Bright, who sought the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat last year, is also offering bumper stickers featuring the Confederate emblem and the message “Keep your hands off my flag” in exchange for campaign contributions.
A recent CNN poll echoes Bright’s sentiments — at least 57 percent of Americans see the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism. But the flag, which flew high during a war fought to defend and justify slavery, dredges up the painful and horrific past of African-Americans in this country. On June 27, community organizer, activist, singer and North Carolina native Brittany “Bree” Newsome was arrested after she took it upon herself to scale the pole and remove the flag from State House grounds herself.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Earlier this week, social justice activist and blogger Shaun King offered a “bounty” on the flag and offered to pay any necessary bail bond fees. Newsome declined the cash reward, asking that all proceeds go to funds supporting victims of the Charleston church massacre. Social media users raised more than $75,000 to fund legal expenses. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a renowned defense attorney, has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson as they face criminal charges.
I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising.
Not long ago, I had watched the beginning of Selma, the reenactment of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and had shuddered at the horrors of history.
But this was neither a scene from a movie nor was it the past. A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting.
This was now.
This was real.
This was—this is—still happening.
I began my activism by participating in the Moral Monday movement, fighting to restore voting rights in North Carolina after the Supreme Court struck down key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
I traveled down to Florida where the Dream Defenders were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, who reminded me of a modern-day Emmett Till.
I marched with the Ohio Students Association as they demanded justice for victims of police brutality.
I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.
I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.
And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.
Just four short days after a gunman opened fire in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the historic house of worship has reopened its doors for Sunday service.
With church members, visitors and members of the Charleston community in attendance, the congregation showed its strength this morning, as it has many times before, while mourning the loss of nine members and honoring them through praise, worship and unity.
South Carolina’s governor and Charleston’s mayor sat in the front row. Rev. Norvel Goff started the service off saying, “This is our house of worship. The doors of the church are open, praise be to God.”
While reflecting on the pain inflicted on the congregation by the violent and senseless act of Dylann Storm Roof, Rev. Goff went through the bevy of emotions that everyone has been feeling, including anger, and asked how people should respond to moments like this. “Do we respond by being afraid? Or do we respond in faith?”
But despite increased security and additional visitors, Mother Emanuel’s Sunday service was a fairly normal one full of love, support and compassion for the church community as they prepare to rebuild once again.
On Thursday (June 18), the gunman was apprehended and is currently jailed and being held on $1 million bond.
First and foremost, all of us at Good Black News are heartbroken over the loss of the nine precious lives taken this week by senseless, hateful murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and our sympathies and prayers go out to the families and loved ones most acutely affected by this domestic terrorism. Even though you may already know the names of the unintended martyrs, they bear repeating, and often, so we never forget: Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Myra Thompson, and Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor.
We call them martyrs because they are now part of the unfortunately long lineage of named and unnamed African-Americans subjected to racially-motivated violence in the United States. From enslaved persons who died on slave ships in the Middle Passage, to persons enslaved in the colonies, to Reconstruction, to the Jim Crow era, to the Civil Rights movement and up through today, the pattern is plain: you are black, you are hated, your life doesn’t matter, you die violently.
I have spent a lot of time this past week reading and watching coverage of this national tragedy, not only to gather as much information as possible, but also to process and attempt to think of the right words to share on how to move forward in a positive manner, as that is overriding philosophy and mission of Good Black News. I do think it is crucial first, however, to talk about WHERE this happened, HOW it happened and WHY it happened.
As everyone knows by now, South Carolina so proudly claims its antebellum history that the Confederate flag still flies on its State Capitol building. The battle at Fort Sumpter in 1861, right outside of Charleston, which occurred not long after South Carolina seceded from the Union, set off the Civil War. Tourist shops in Charleston casually sell merchandise such as mammy magnets and confederate bumper stickers, which are symbols of racial oppression to my eyes, but symbols of “the good ol’ days” to others.
The other “where” in this situation is specifically the Emanuel AME Church. The history of this church is steeped in the fight for African-Americans to create their own place of worship and the freedom to express their humanity. One of the church founders, Denmark Vesey, attempted in 1822 to organize a slave rebellion from this space, which, although thwarted, created mass hysteria among the slave owners in the Carolinas and lead to the church being burned. It has been rebuilt several times and stands as a consistent symbol of black pride, resistance and fortitude. So the choice of this place for this action makes it clear this was a targeted, racially-motivated attack.
On Wednesday night, in the spirit of fellowship, church members welcomed Dylann Roof, the unfamiliar stranger who would become their assassin, to join and participate in their bible study. He took advantage of their compassion and open hearts to forward a racist agenda that is centuries-old and still pervasive in the DNA of this country, and particularly so in South Carolina and the South. In the 1960s, people didn’t call the killers of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., or the four African-American girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama “mentally insane.” They called them what they were – Klan members and/or racists. So regardless of whether or not Roof has mental problems, his racism and desire for racial supremacy is the primary motivation behind his actions.
So, clearly knowing all of that, what are some positive, actionable ways we can move forward as a nation, in our communities and in our personal lives from this horrific event?
Petition/protest/vote for removals of all symbols of oppression and hate from government buildings, streets, tourist centers and shops.
Contribute to the donation fund set up for the families of the victims of the Emanuel AME shootings.
Support/join organizations such as the NAACP, ACLU or the National Urban League, that are dedicated to protesting racial injustice and empowering minorities.
Educate all children of all colors and creeds about the racial history of the United States from slavery to the present and call it what it is. Visit civil rights museums. Read, know and learn the history. Just as Jewish peoples around the world make sure each generation “never forgets” the Holocaust – so should we never forget about American racial injustice.
Keep calling out and protesting current injustices – we need to keep filming and reporting and being sources for unjust police actions, racial disparities in the workplace and even in our personal conversations. Let’s not be Roof’s friend Joseph Meek Jr.,who now regrets not checking his friend more thoroughly about his racist vitriol.
Love. Find forgiveness in our hearts just as the family members of several of the victims are doing for the assailant. Meeting hate with hate solves nothing.