The Washington Post reports that:
Police are searching for a gunman who opened fire Wednesday night at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, S.C. Charleston officials said nine people were killed and others were injured.We must call this what it is, white supremacist terrorism. This incident is reminiscent of the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church. That bombing killed four precious African American girls.
“I do believe this is a hate crime,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a late night news conference, without explaining the basis for his conclusion.
Police said the victims had gathered Wednesday night in the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston for a prayer service when the shooting occurred. Police are now searching for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s, who has sandy blond hair and a small build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believe to be the only shooter.
“This is the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy in historic Emanuel AME church, the mother church of the AME churches,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (D) said. “People in prayer Wednesday evening, a ritual coming together, praying and worshiping God. To have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable. Obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible.”
“The only reason someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” he added. “The only reason. It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine.”
Police said the shooting occurred about 9 p.m. at the church, which is located between Henrietta and Calhoun streets near Marion Square in downtown Charleston. Charleston’s NAACP president Dot Scott told the Post and Courier that a female survivor told family members the shooter sat down in the church for a while before he started shooting.
When officers arrived, they determined that eight people had been killed inside the church, Mullen told reporters. Two others were taken to a nearby hospital, where the ninth died, he said.
Today, over 50 years later, we are reminded yet again that we live under the illusion of progress. Even with a black president in the White House, racial hatred against black people continues. In fact, it has become more open, more intense and more inflamed. Black people, it is time to wake up from our deep slumber and face reality.
This is our wake up call. How many more signs must we see? When will we finally realize that there is a war on black people. The police are suppose to protect us from this type of terrorism. Unfortunately, some police officers terrorize us as well. A prime example is the shooting of Walter Scott. As we pray for our sisters and brothers in Charleston, we must prepare to defend ourselves, our families, our communities and our institutions. Our demand for justice must be relentless.