U.S. church holds first service after massacre
HUNDREDS of people have flocked to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, in the United States (U.S.) city of South Carolina, after it reopened its doors to worshippers, four days after a white man shot nine black church members to death.
Yesterday morning marked the first worship service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston since Dylann Roof, 21, sat among a Bible study group and opened fire last Wednesday after saying that he targeted them because they were black, authorities said.
Al Jazeera’s described a “very emotional” church service attended by an estimated 2,000 people. Church attendees sang gospel songs as thousands more gathered outside to show their solidarity following the shooting.
“They are trying to do the best out of a very difficult situation,” Al Jazeera said. Among the nine killed was the church pastor, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.
Events to show solidarity were planned throughout the city yesterday and beyond, including the synchronised ringing of church bells in Charleston.
Outside the church, the oldest African-American congregation in the southern U.S., bouquets, bears and balloons covered the pavement while hundreds of people lined up to mourn, sing hymns and leave memorials. One of the victims, Senator Clementa Pinckney, will be buried on Friday.
The funeral will be held at TD Arena on the College of Charleston campus, a funeral home spokesperson confirmed the details to The State newspaper.
The FBI said it was investigating a manifesto purportedly written by Roof. The website linked to Roof contained photos of him holding a burning American flag and standing on one.
In other images, he was holding the Confederate flag representing the pro-slavery South in the American Civil War, considered a divisive symbol by many.
Roof is being held in jail, facing nine counts of murder and a weapons charge. A police affidavit released on Friday accused Roof of shooting all nine multiple times, and making a “racially inflammatory statement” as he stood over an unidentified survivor. Six of the victims were women and three were men.
Demonstrators were expected to march through the business district of Charleston yesterday evening. Many of them would be holding signs reading: “Still We Rise”, and “Stop White Terrorism.”
Meanwhile, there are growing calls for the removal of a Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.
A Republican state legislator said he would introduce a bill in December to move the flag and pole to a state military museum. A large crowd rallied in Columbia yesterday to protest against the presence of the flag, calling it a symbol of hatred, not heritage.