Dylan Roof: What Comes After the Trial?

Dylan Roof: What Comes After the Trial?

The Dylan Roof federal trial ended on Thursday, December 15, 2016. He was found guilty of all 33 federal counts. The verdict was not in doubt as he candidly observed, “We all know I am guilty.” The federal trial moves into the sentencing phase on January 6, 2017. The state trial will begin on January 17, 2017, with prosecutors explicitly stating they intend to seek the death penalty.

Reading the coverage of the federal trial in the national news revealed glimpses of the horror and emotion the families had to relive. The massacre was replayed through the media and snapshots of the trial. Even more troubling was the revelation that Mr. Roof had a list of churches—many of them AME—where he intended to find and murder Black people.

We know that the state verdict will probably mirror the federal verdict and the discussion will turn to the extent that Mr. Roof will have to atone for his heinous crimes. Listening to the thoughts and comments of AMEs, there is tension between embodying Christian teachings by wanting or needing to forgive and the desire for justice and revenge. In their last moments on Earth, those slain by Mr. Roof showed Christian empathy and love in the face of pure evil. They are gone but he remains—for now. Does the death of Mr. Roof equate to justice for ones who follow Christ?

The cathartic release obtained by seeing the executioner’s needle or switch masks the fact that Dylan Roof was not a lone gunman—despite the protestations of the defense. He was the product of a system of prejudice and racism that has been shrouded in the gentility of Southern customs and manners. The same people who were so swept up and hurt by the carnage inflicted by one of their own, voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. (According to CNN exit polls, the President-Elect won 70% of white voters in South Carolina). South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley—the same person who sat and mourned with us and called Trump “everything a governor does not want in a President”—is now designee for the Trump Administration’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

It is clear that the same environment that birthed a Dylan Roof elected a Donald Trump. This is the situation that we are called to face. So, while we may find solace in verdicts and punishments, the fight against the real culprit for the murder in Mother Emanuel—America’s vitriolic racism—continues.

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2 Comments

  1. Well stated! What comes after, however is more a function of what kind of work we shall couple with our prayers. Mother Emanuel (or the Orlando ballroom or an office complex in San Diego) will continue well into the future of this land and that of its occupants. We are hard wired to a culture of violent response to perceived loss of entitlement on the one hand or the frustration that comes from the lack of access to opportunity on the other with both being exacerbated by the unlimited supply of firearms available to each.

    Though it is unlikely that we can easily quell the psyche’s of the enraged, is there a path by which we can minimize the impact of of their arsenals?

    What I mean by work is collective action in the political sphere. It is important to note that though 70% of N.C. whites voted for Trump, if the number of African Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 and in 2012 had voted, it is likely that Trump would not have won, not only N..C., but PA, OH and MI as well. Yet an electoral political solution cannot be the sole focus of our effort.

    Political action must cease to be an every two to four year proposition for we who are most likely to be victimized by the armed expressions of these self annointed executioners. We must adopt an extra electoral political strategy that is more annual than bi-annual; more monthly than annual; more weekly than monthly and more daily than weekly.

    And what should our demands include? Well to begin with, since we haven’t been able to interdict the number of weapons available to those who choose to use them nefariously, we should demand, pursuant to the USSCT’s most recent 2d Amendment ruling, weapons for the rest of us. The mantra should become, “Since you can’t protect us, we demand that we be provided the mechanisms to protect ourselves!” Yes, I’m saying arm everyone who otherwise qualify for possession to carry under current law, on demand. As the 14th Amendment guarantees each of us the right to equal protection of and due process of law, I am suggesting that we demand that public funds be utilized to provide every citizen a fire arm of choice and training regarding the use of same for personal protection.

    Of course the first reaction of the sane among us is that this is a looney proposition, unworkable at the very least. Well I suggest that each of us consider the circumstances within which we now find ourselves and recognize that being a prayer warrior requires more emphasis on warrior if we are to advance as a people. A day to day discussion about this and other extra political initiatives that fall outside of the box of what heretofore has been a vessel of unsuccessful efforts. What is tour suggestion?

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