Equality Florida stands today in mourning and in outrage at the murders of nine people inside their historic African-American church on Wednesday evening. It is a hate crime that has shocked the nation and claimed the lives of six women and three men, including State Senator Clementa Pinckney. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and the entire community reeling from this brutal act of terror.
It’s impossible to make sense of such a “hateful and deranged” crime, as Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. put it. But we must note the connection between the deed and the hateful ideas that are said to have motivated it.
The alleged gunman sat through an hour of Bible study before opening fire. And when he ignored the pleas of his intended victims and reloaded his gun, he said, according to a witness. “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
It is not enough to condemn the actions of a lone gunman; we must also confront the rancid, racist ideology at the heart of this crime. Not everyone who holds his apparent beliefs commits these horrific acts but we must challenge those views that nourish the kind of moral depravity that led to this slaughter. #BlackLivesMatter