Tag Archives: race relations

Murder at Bible Study

Dylan Roof and Flag

Dylann Roof and the Confederate Flag

A Shooting During Bible Study

He walked nonchalantly into Charleston’s predominately Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (the Church). The young Caucasian man took a seat and joined a bible study class that had already begun. Because the church had an open door policy, he was welcomed to join the seated Afro-Americans in fellowship. The date was June 17, 2015, and the time was about 9:00 pm. No one in the class could have imagined that the unassuming young man would soon unleash unimaginable violence against them.

As the class wound down, the young man suddenly rose to his feet. Without saying a word, he reached into his pocket and took out a Glock automatic handgun. He began to shoot his fellow worshipers one by one. When the rampage finally ended, nine people lay dead on the floor. Among the dead was the church’s senior pastor, Clementa Pnkney, who was also a State Senator. The shooting struck deep in the conscious of American. Some people wondered if the nation was returning to the social and racial strife of the 50s and 60s. Showing a path to reconciliation and respect, President Obama traveled to South Carolina on June 26 to deliver the eulogy  at the services for State Senator Pinckney.


Rev Clementa Pinkney

The shooter probably thought that he had killed everyone, but he hadn’t. A survivor of the massacre told the police that the man had used racial epithets while he was firing.

Security cameras recorded the shooter fleeing, if it could be called that, from the scene. The police recovered the camera’s footage and posted the shooter’s likeness on the Internet and with the news media. At a news conference, police officials requested the public’s assistance in identifying and apprehending the shooter. Within hours, the police had received a major break in the case; the father of the alleged shooter had contacted them. The man tearfully told them that picture of the suspect was that of his son, Dylann Roof

The elder Roof voluntarily cooperated with the police.  The Charleston police issued an all-points bulletin (APB) for Dylann Roof’s arrest. A description of the car that Roof might be driving was included in the bulletin. The information the elder Roof provided led directly to the arrest of his son.  In my opinion, the Charleston Police Department should be commended for their professional work in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

In the morning of June 19, 2015, Police in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, captured Roof. A commuter driving along a highway observed a car that fit the description of the car described in the APB. She pulled along the side of the car and identified Roof as the driver. Using her cellular phone, she called her boss to tell him who she had just spotted. The co-worker contacted an acquaintance who worked in the local police department. A few phone calls later, deputies of the Shelby Police Department caught up to Dylan’s car and took him into custody. The 48-hour manhunt came to an end without a shot being fired nor was anyone injured during the arrest.

Given the circumstances of the shooting, it was not surprising that the first news reports lacked substantive details about the shooting. People with personal knowledge of the shooting supplemented the news medias’ versions by tweeting and posting on social media their accounts of the tragedy.  What the reports and accounts had in common was that the shooter was a White male and victims were Black. Most Americans sighed in resignation that the shooting would occasion another debate to nowhere over the question of race. From what I had heard and read, it seemed likely that Roof’s attack had been racially motivated. Yet, there has never been any evidence that  Roof acted as part of a White conspiracy.

South Carolina police initially charged Roof with nine counts of murder. Subsequently, state prosecutors impaneled a grand jury to consider evidence of the shooting. On July 7, 2015, the State Prosecutor’s office issued a statement that Roof had been indicted on nine murder counts,  three counts of attempted murder and a  weapons count. Much to the consternation of many civil rights advocates and local community activists, the state criminal case against Roof was proceeding professionally and without any public grandstanding.

Opinion polls indicated that a majority of Blacks and liberals wanted Roof charged with a hate crime. I believe that if he had committed the crime in a jurisdiction where hate crimes were chargeable, he would have been indicted for having committed one. For better or worst South Carolina has no statutory provision for charging of hate crimes.

Without knowing the substantive facts of the case or the evidence against Roof, many people clamored for Roof to get the death penalty. These “newly anointed advocates of the death penalty” probably were spurred on by Gov. Nikki Haley who publicly stated that the case warranted the death penalty. South Carolina does permit the imposition of the death penalty for certain convictions. State prosecutors decided to carefully consider their options in terms of punishment. They knew that it would have been professionally negligent to seek the death penalty without first conducting numerous mandated investigations. Community activists and their allies began to question the South Carolina’s desire to “seek justice.” They publicly expressed the view that if the shooter had been Black and his victims had been White justice would have already been rendered.


On Ferguson – The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way

On Ferguson – The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way.

The views expressed in this post are seductively attractive. Yet, many Blacks that I know would not support them. I am one of them.NYPost.com picture

I reject as ludicrous the idea that only Blacks qualify to formulate corrective strategies for the addressing racial injustices. In my opinion the solution to this problem is beyond the means of any one group of people. History has shown that the intellectual fuel for driving social change often comes from those not subjected to the injustices they seek to change. I also think that American Blacks need to develop new collaborative relationships to invigorate the march towards a better a station in life. What has happened and is happening in Ferguson Missouri is a tragedy playing out on the global stage. Unfortunately Blacks in Ferguson are being judged not for their message but the manner in which they express it.

It seems like the author grew up in the comfort and security of a loving family. She looked forward to spending summers with relatives who lived hours away. I think that parents who sacrifice to offer a pro-social lifestyle instill good family values and useful social skills in their kids. Does anyone dare throw into today’s debate Michael Brown’s upbringing experiences? Is the subject too taboo for some?

The post’s lengthy discussion of the uncle who was a policeman leads to me to conclude that he was proud of his profession. It appears that he wanted to share his learning experiences as an officer. Perhaps he wanted teach his young wards something about the criminal justice system. Unless I am completely misreading and misinterpreting this post the author has fond memories of her days with this particular uncle. What is wrong with this?

The author draws our attention to the fact that the uncle told her that the police were there to protect her. Was he lying? Nowhere in the post is there a hint that the uncle was really saying; “niece this judicial system only serves the interests of White people.” Let’s not crucify the uncle for not saying this; he probably focused more on providing his niece with some (fatherly) civic lessons than pointing out the failures of Canadian judicial-police system to treat everyone equally. Unfortunately the author does not reveal if she ever discussed with her uncle this topic. It be interesting to know what his thoughts were.

 I wonder… what are the personal and educational endeavors that the author uses to formulate her conclusion that the American judicial system was built only for White people? Has the system over the years involved to be more inclusive? Clearly having some Black friends does not qualify the author or anybody as an authority on the problems of race in the American. Granted, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

The author’s call to arms of White (Canadians?) people to join Blacks in their fight for civil justice is only a repetition a decades old refrain. The old alliances formed in the turbulent 60s between White liberals and Black activists have long ago dissolved. The natural progression of time has led to that generation of freedom fighters and intellectuals to pass on. America has changed drastically in the intervening years. The relationship between the author’s vaunted Liberals and Blacks has not progressed with the times.

The events feeding the current debate indicate that White liberals still have not developed the courage to criticize on any level their Black allies. It seems like the Whites who the author calls to task for not doing enough are reluctant to argue more intellectual and substantive points out of fear of being labeled a raciest by their Black allies. What an ironic set of circumstances.