by G. Brown
It was pretty much an open and shut case that lasted less than a week with excruciating testimony that relived the sorrow and carnage inside Mother Emmanuel AME Church on June 17th of last year.
That was the day gunman Dylann Roof drove to a prayer service at the Charleston SC church and slaughtered nine people. A tenth vicitm, Felicia Sanders, lived to testify this week in court. Sanders’ raw, emotional testimony brought the entire courtroom to tears as she described the young man who heartlessly shot nine others as “evil, evil, evil”. Sanders added that Roof belonged in “the pit of hell.” Roof was found guilty on 33 charges including murder, hate crimes and federal gun charges. About 17 of the charges make Roof eligible for the death penalty in SC as the trial moves moves from the verdict to the penalty phase of the trial on January 3, 2017.
The jury only deliberated two hours to convict the man who immediately confessed to the slayings. The court played the tape of Roof telling FBI agents after his arrest, “I am guilty. We all know I’m guilty.” Roof also said on the tape, he believed Black men were raping White woman and that White people had become second-class citizens.
Justice in the Roof case comes at a time when many murders of Blacks, especially at the hands of police, often ends in what some consider injustice.
Just two weeks ago, another SC jury in North Charleston allowed former patrolman Michael Slager to walk away a free man after being tried for shooting Walter Scott. A video of the shooting from April of last year went viral when Officer Slager was seen on camera shooting an unarmed Scott in the back as the man tried to run away. The North Charleston police officer was charged with murder as the video showed that Slager used unnecessary force. But even with the video tape, Slager’s trial ended with a hung jury which led to a mistrial. Even though the prosecutor plans to try the case again, there was a national outrage. People feared that the Slager case would follow a national trend of allowing White police officers to kill unarmed Black people and get away with murder. Three hours north of Charleston, in Charlotte NC, an officer was cleared in the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in November. In Florida, two officers were cleared in the shooting death of a 21 year old Demarcus Semer who was unarmed and tried to flee during a traffic stop. In July, six Baltimore officers were cleared in the death of Freddie Gray after the man fell into a coma while being transported in a police van. Gray was later shown to have suffered spinal cord injuries and the officers were indicted on homicide charges, but no convictions for any of them.
Since the presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center said more than 300 incidents of harassment or intimidation had been reported in the days following the election.
Just this week alone, there have been more incidents like at the Missouri high school basketball game where an all-Black team faced off against an all-White team. At one point, White students held up a “TRUMP” sign and turned their backs to the Black students as a means of intimidation.
In Michigan, a firefighter was fired following a racist Facebook rant in which he responded to a Black Lives Matter post saying, “You are the true epitome of a [n–ger], All lives matter. And if you think it’s just black lives kiss my a** b**ch and go back to the fields that us in the north fought to free you from.”
Racist attacks like these are no longer the exception, but the rule as more and more White people seem emboldened by the election of the man who spewed corrosive, racial rhetoric and came out the victor. It doesn’t matter that he may have cheated with the help of the Russians hacking our system…it doesn’t matter that he played them by saying the hateful stuff they longed to hear in a move to ‘take back their country’ and is now back peddling on most of those promises. The end justifies the means in the opinion of many.
The guilty conviction of Roof was an open and shut case, but so many other ‘open and shut cases’ always found a loophole of some kind. With Whites not fearing any kind of justice or repercussions, is it possible that Roof is getting to see the race war he desired?