People from every state in the nation are sending their deepest heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the families of the nine people senselessly murdered while at Bible study at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel AME Church. This is the church of former slave and abolitionist Denmark Vesey, who was hanged for organizing a slave rebellion. This is a church that was burned down and had to conduct its services in secret. Yes, members of Mother Emanuel AME were criminalized and forbidden to attend services because of their courageous anti-slavery activity.
Members of Mother Emanuel fought Jim Crow and supported SEIU 1199’s 1968 campaign to organize hospital workers, a church which protested the police shooting of 40 black students, killing two at Orangeburg State in the ’60s, and the recent police shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston.
The African American community in Charleston and all those who support racial equality, democracy and justice understand that the world is watching, and this is time to mobilize and step up the struggle to bring an end to racist terror and structural racism in general.
The Republicans are in denial and having a hard time defining what happened in Charleston. Jeb Bush at first said he didn’t know what was on Dylann Roof’s mind when he murdered the nine. But at the right-wing Republican “Faith and Freedom Summit” he added that racism motivated Roof. It was said like an afterthought. He apparently was responding to criticism with that “correction.”
Most of the Republican presidential contenders are talking about Roof’s mental illness but not his racism. They’re afraid to use the “R” word because racism is how they mobilize their base. And once again they hope to ride that wagon of racism into the White House in 2016.
Racist vigilantism is a logical course of action for those who think big government is the problem. It’s like red meat for those who hate President Obama and want to “put black people in their place.” Add the elements of the insane proliferation of guns (another GOP core issue), daily doses of racist propaganda on Fox, the crisis of mental health care, and it’s clear that the threats of more shootings like Charleston continue to touch hundreds of communities.
There are 310 million guns in private hands in our country. Guns killed eight thousand Americans in 2013 – five thousand so far this year and it’s only June. I don’t know if that includes police murders. That’s another layer of the problem that must be stopped.
Black Lives Matter. That slogan hits home when it comes to the mass shootings and especially the actions of organized racist groups – which have grown at an alarming rate since the election of President Obama.
Hillary Clinton has come out for stronger gun control. As Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed it, “What happened in Charleston was not just a tragedy. It was an act of terror.”
It is a shameful expose of Republican backwardness and lack of regard for the safety of our nation. Most of their candidates continue to run with the National Rifle Association’s money and seal of approval.
It’s more than the 2nd Amendment, which does not compute based on today’s realities and is wrongly applied. There is an element among right-wing voters that have been convinced that some kind of race war is inevitable and they are preparing for it. Meantime, the Republicans who are always ready to go to war over terrorism all over the world block any restrictions on access to guns here at home. So these tragic mass shootings continue to occur in our country. The nation is sick of these murders. I can only hope our justified disgust shows up at the polls in 2016.
Is it a hate crime or terrorism?
All presidential hopefuls, and all people with a public voice, need to speak out against the racism that motivated Dylann Roof. Republicans especially need to take on Donald Trump in his racist rant against Mexican Americans. Today, as tenants of New York are fighting for their survival against powerful real estate interests, Donald Trump shows the deep bigotry and arrogance of his class. Profits before people breeds racism.
Extreme racism is a form of mental illness. The ultra right’s dependency on racism to win elections so that they can govern – to preserve and protect the wealth, power and high privileges of the 1 percent – also gives license to lunatics to commit heinous act of racist violence. Most acts of terrorism are hate crimes and Charleston is no exception.
At the scene of the crime, when asked why he did what he did, Dylann Roof told the sole survivor, “You (Black people) rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” So he kills nine innocent people, including six women, and his actions were supposed to be a fight against the rape of women? The use of the rape charge to murder Black men is as old as racism and has cost thousands of innocent lives over the centuries.
In South Carolina, Republicans control both houses of the state legislature and they keep corporate profits high and wages and union organization low. Remember the Charleston 5 dock workers strike; the 2001 police frame up of 5 Black striking Charleston Longshore workers described in Tim Wheeler’s article “Unite against Racist Terror.” The GOP opposes gun control and pushes mass incarceration and racial profiling in policing, convictions and sentencing. African Americans are 28 percent of the state’s population but are 62 percent of those in state prisons. Over 70 percent of those incarcerated in South Carolina are Black, Latino and Native American. They talk anti-crime but in reality they are conducting a war on the poor.
The Confederate flag is still flying at the State House in Columbia.
Mass pressure forced the state government to remove the flag from the State House dome in 2000, but the compromise was to build a Confederate Soldiers Monument on State House grounds with the flag of the slavocracy flying high. When you look at the state capitol you will see the Confederate flag still ascendant.
Not just African Americans are opposed to that flag. Three-quarters of a million Americans died in the Civil War. The largest number of casualties were on the Union side, including over 40,000 black soldiers. They fought against the confederate flag and all it represented.
Shamefully, Republican Governor Nikki Haley, in the wake of the racist murders, ordered the flags on the State Capitol to fly at half mast, but at this writing the Confederate flag still has not been lowered.
Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old who murdered Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, Depayne Middleton Doctor and Myra Thompson, according to those who know him, is an avid racist who told his friends that the problem in the country is that black people had taken over the country. He posed for a photo wearing a leather jacket with the old apartheid South African flag and the white supremacist Rhodesian flag, along with numerous pictures with him and the Confederate flag. He had a “Confederate States of America” license plate on his Hyundai. He wrote a 2000-word racist and anti-Semitic manifesto that he circulated.
In Germany it is illegal to fly the Nazi flag.
In the name of humanity, racial justice, and the Mother Emanuel 9:
Take down that flag!!!
The 2016 election can be a powerful rejection of racist politicians and policies if there is a maximum mobilization of progressive voters nationwide.
Twenty-eight percent of African Americans in South Carolina live in poverty. The fight for unionization and for a $15.00 minimum wage has to be part of the total fight for racial justice.
All people of good will, while we mourn, must demand justice for the families of the Nine as they are doing in Charleston. The struggle for freedom and justice must and will continue.
Black Lives Do Matter! All lives matter!
Photo: At city hall in North Charleston, S.C., a man holds a sign during a protest for the shooting death of Walter Scott, who was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop. The officer has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)