Charleston shooting

The Context of the Church Massacre

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the role it has played in Charleston


Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

The murder of nine people is going to make people sad and angry in any context. Those feelings are sure to be intensified when the massacre takes place in a black church and the killer is a white man who reportedly told his victims, "You rape our women and you're taking over our country." Last night's assault in Charleston has the added weight of taking place two months after a white cop in neighboring North Charleston was charged with murdering a black man, Walter Scott, setting off a renewed wave of civil rights activism in the area.

On top of all that, this church itself plays a central role in Charleston's black community, and it has for a long time. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church's current building was erected in 1891, and the congregation has been around formally since 1865. It traces its roots back still earlier, to a church co-founded in 1816 by Denmark Vesey, who would eventually be hanged for allegedly plotting a slave revolt. (Reports of the Vesey plot set off one of the most infamous insurrection panics of the antebellum era, with over 100 suspected conspirators arrested and 35 executed.) When Charleston banned all-black churches, the congregation supposedly dissolved; but some of the worshippers continued to meet in secret, and the current church sees itself as a direct descendant of Vesey's original congregation.

Whether or not the shooter knew any of that history, there certainly are a lot of black Charlestonians who know it. They also know that a pastor killed in the attack—State Sen. Clementa Pinckney—has his own history of civil rights activism, most recently reacting to Walter Scott's death with a push for South Carolina cops to wear body cameras. I've heard the phrases "mass shooting" and "hate crime" a lot since last night; don't be surprised if "assassination" is added to the mix.

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  1. More info about the suspect…

    1. You’re in the area, right?

      What is his hometown like?

      1. It’s pretty redneck out there. I have some family out that way and they are pretty rough, and dontr particularly like “outsiders.”

        1. It will be pretty easy to paint the guy as a some sort of white, redneck nut and all the baggage that comes with the “redneck” description.

  2. Vesey and his followers were said to be planning to kill slaveholders in Charleston, liberate the slaves, and sail to the black republic of Haiti for refuge.

    Hopefully, Tony will show up to explain to us why Vesey is not a hero.

  3. Awful story in any context indeed.

  4. What a horrible crime!

    To sit and pray with people for an hour and then cold bloodedly shoot them. That is one evil man.

  5. The church has a fascinating, rich history.

    I guarantee you that shooter wasn’t aware of any of it.

    1. Yeah, I’m pretty sure he is ignorant and stupid. He likely just saw a bunch of black folks, the history of the church likely never entered into it.

      1. What makes you so sure of that? Or did I mistake irony?

        1. Because the guy went to a church to get revenge on people who were “raping his women”. Not a nightclub, or a gas station, or a movie theater. A fucking church.

          Q.E.D. The guy is stupid.

          1. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.” -Donald Trump explains Mexican immigrants.

    2. I guarantee you that shooter wasn’t aware of any of it.

      My guess (repeat: guess) is that he knew it was a center of the black community but wasn’t aware of all the reasons why.

      1. Fair enough. I’m going to guess that you’re absolutely right.

  6. It’s too soon. I’ve seen too many Media Narratives go in the khazi after days of harping on “facts” that turned out to be utter hogwash.

    I accept that the victims were black. I accept that the attacker was probably white. I accept that it took place at an historic church. Everything else is up for grabs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn later that, in fact, the shooting took place at an after hours unlicensed bodega, the victims were asian, and the shooter was a pict and dyed blue.

    1. God damn Picts. Raiding our villages, raping our women.

  7. Last night’s assault in Charleston has the added weight of taking place two months after a white cop in neighboring North Charleston was charged with murdering a black man, Walter Scott, setting off a renewed wave of civil rights activism in the area.

    A civilian murdering another civilian has precisely nothing to do with “civil rights”.

    1. Bullshit. Our rights are protected against force, not government force-specifically, otherwise establishing governments to protect our rights wouldn’t even make superficial sense. Muslims murdering cartoonists is as much a threat to the right of freedom of speech as governments throwing cartoonists in the hoosegow.

  8. Just watching the President assert apparently this sort of stuff doesn’t happen at all in any advanced country.

  9. There’s always got to be some fucknut.

  10. Be careful who you blame about this mess. I think ISIS is using a hot item of Racism to get us all messed up. They have been located in SC and other states. The person responsible is to young to see our Racism issues however many of his age has tried to join ISIS.

  11. I guess this will confirm a lot of people’s suspicions that racism is still a massive simmering issue. But I’m just struck by how weird and anachronistic this guy’s thing is. Rhodesia patches? That’s like early 80s British style racial nationalism. It’s like he was stuck in a vault with only some No Remorse albums and a few xeroxed White Aryan Resistance pamphlets…

    Racism is definitely a reality today, but it’s more a cryptic and institutionalized thing.

    1. Agreed.
      Any KKK/Aryan Nation/White Power bullshit is generally in tiny pockets and usually consists of old-timers convincing young, wayward, Caucasian youth about how they need to be “down for their skin”. Mix in some alcohol, daddy issues and a constant diet of racially-charged propaganda…bingo.
      I’ve heard that Coeur d’Alene Idaho is hot spot for white power shit.
      Not sure if that’s true.
      I feel like I’m going to puke right now or I’d Google it.
      Just ate an entire bag of jalape?o chips and slammed an organic Rockstar. Not sitting well with me.
      Arggh. Fuck.

  12. MK Ultra is probably out of the question.
    It’s probably just good or bad timing…well, depending on what political affiliation you’re shilling for and what-not.

  13. It is ridiculous to assign a designation such as a “hate crime” or even the specter of “racism” to an act perpetrated by an obviously deranged individual. This person is exactly the age when diseases such as schizophrenia manifest themselves. His long list of black friends is incongruent with any rational sense of “racism” or the like.

  14. They keep calling it a black church. It is an off-white church with a dark grey roof and a dark red-brownish steeple.

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