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In the wake of tragedy, Charleston mourns as the world reacts.

Nine innocent people lost their lives to senseless violence.

On June 17, 2015, gunfire erupted from inside Charleston, South Carolina's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, entered the church around 8 p.m. Once inside, reports say that Roof sat and prayed with the group before he allegedly opened fire, killing nine people.


On Thursday morning, June 18, 2015, Roof was arrested roughly 200 miles away from Charleston, in Shelby, North Carolina.


One of the nine victims was the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, a pastor and state legislator.

Newsweek profiled Pinckney, noting that he recently co-sponsored a bill designed to require police officers to wear body cameras in the wake of the Walter Scott shooting.


A black cloth covered Pinckney's seat in the state Senate.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen is calling the shooting a racially-motivated hate crime.

By appearances, it certainly looks as though this was a racially-motivated crime. On Roof's Facebook profile, he's seen wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia. Those two countries have a deep history of white supremacy.


Commentator Marc Lamont Hill did what most in the media wouldn't: He called this an act of terrorism.

He made the point that had this been carried out by just about anyone other than a white man, the media would have been quick to label this an act of domestic terrorism. Instead, the closest that most outlets will get is to suggest this is a hate crime.


In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security warned that "white supremacist lone wolves" should be taken seriously as a terrorism threat.

The report reads, "[The Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis] has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts."

Then-House Minority Leader John Boehner lashed out at use of the word "terrorist" being used to describe these types of individuals. Instead, he characterized them as "American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation."


Now Speaker of the House, Boehner offered his condolences for this tragic loss of life.


Groups and individuals on both a national and local level offered a range of reactions.

NAACP issued a statement:

"The NAACP was founded to fight against racial hatred and we are outraged that 106 years later, we are faced today with another mass hate crime. Our heartfelt prayers and soul-deep condolences go out to the families and community of the victims at Charleston's historic Emanuel AME Church. The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study. There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture. Today, I mourn as an AME minister, as a student and teacher of scripture, as well as a member of the NAACP." — Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO

A number of people pointed to the life of Demark Vesey, who in 1822, planned a massive slave revolt in Charleston.

Vesey's plot was thwarted, and he was put to death.


Locally, people mourned and prayed in churches and in public.


Perhaps most importantly, the people of Charleston came together in strength and solidarity like they have before.



If you're interested in following along on social media, please check out the following Twitter hashtags:

#CharlestonStrong, #IamAME, #PrayForCharleston, #CharlestonShooting, #AMEShooting, #DemarkVesey, #EmanuelAME, #sctweets

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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