By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, June 18, the nation was shocked by the terror attack on a predominately Black Church in Charleston, South Carolina pastored by South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney.
Reverend Pinckney’s slaying, apparently by a racist White youth, brought up memories of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by a racist White man. The mass shooting at a prayer service at Emanuel AME Church also brought up memories of Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other instances where Americans were gunned down by homicidal maniacs.
Throughout Thursday, a number of state leaders issued statements about the events in South Carolina. Some of these statements were made before the assassin, Dylann Storm Roof was captured near Shelby, North Carolina.
US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said, “By now you’ve probably heard the news out of Charleston about the senseless, hate-filled murder that took place last night. I hope you’ll join me in praying that God bring special comfort to the families of those who were killed and His peace that passes all understanding to the Charleston community.”
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) wrote in a statement, “The news out of Charleston, South Carolina, is truly heartbreaking. There is no place for that type of violence in our world today. Please join me in saying a prayer for all of those involved and ask that God may bring healing to the entire community.”
Alabama State Representative John Knight, Chairman of the House Black Caucus, issued a written statement in response to the deadly shootings in South Carolina: “The hearts of the members of the Black Caucus are heavy with sorrow, as we extend prayers to the family and friends of our colleague Sen. Clementa Pinckney and others whose lives were so tragically lost. We mourn with the citizens of South Carolina, as our nation is again confronted with unimaginable violence bred and bolstered with hatred and intolerance. This dastardly and heinous attack reminds us of the very real struggle of race in America. Racism is as real today as it was fifty years ago. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the consequences of inaction.”
US Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) wrote, “Places of worship should be places of peace and safety. My prayers for this congregation, the people of Charleston and South Carolina.”
US Representative Terri Sewell wrote, “My thoughts are with those impacted by the shooting, and I pray that the perpetrator is brought to justice soon.”
State Representative Merika Coleman-Evans (D-Midfield) said on Facebook, “Praying for the family of Pastor/State Senator Clementa Pinckney and all of the families of those killed in South Carolina’s historic Mother Emmanuel AME Church last night while they were in bible study! Senator Pinckney has been described as the moral conscience of the South Carolina legislature. Lord, give these families comfort during this tragic time, and allow the perpetrator of this heiness hate crime to be brought to justice swiftly.”
Former Georgia Young Republicans Chairwoman, Alabama native, and candidate for National Young Republican Chair Meagan Myers said in a statement on Facebook, “Awful, awful news out of Charleston this morning. Prayers for the victims’ families and the Charleston community. I simply cannot fathom the evil in the shooter’s heart to commit such a heinous crime. I pray that this man be caught, and justice served.”
Rep. Knight wrote, “The Black Caucus stands together with President Obama and our legislative peers across the nation, committed to honor the lives lost by bringing an end to gun violence and the loose laws that have allowed it escalate.”
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) said in a statement to reporters, “While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”
Knight said in his statement that he also plans to introduce legislation during the Special Session of the Alabama Legislature to require public schools to teach racial tolerance and cultural sensitivity as part of primary, secondary and high school curricula. The Black Caucus also plans to work with legislators across the country to develop stronger state laws to protect citizens from gun violence.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the First AME Church in the South and is often referred to as Mother Emanuel AME for it’s role in developing the denomination. The Church was founded in 1816.