News Fix: Nine Killed in Racist Attack at Black Charleston Church and More News

Buckle up for this week’s news, because most of it is difficult to read about.

+ Last night at about 9 pm, a white gunman opened fire on a bible study group at predominantly black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina after spending about an hour sitting with the congregation. Nine people are reported dead, eight at the scene and one later on at the hospital. Those lost include State Senator Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor; the names of the other eight victims aren’t public yet. [Update: some of the victims are now identified here. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, and Clementa Pinckney.] A five-year-old child survived the massacre, apparently by playing dead, and is now recovering in the hospital; it’s reported that at least three people survived the attack overall. The shooting suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof was arrested this morning in Shelby, North Carolina. The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.

Dylann Storm Roof, from his Facebook

Dylann Storm Roof, from his Facebook

The attack echoes a long, violent history in the US of racist violence toward the black community being directed at religious spaces and worshipers. Perhaps most famous is the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, which targeted the 16th St Baptist Church and killed four young girls: 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson and 11-year-old Denise McNair. The Emanuel AME Church itself carries history of black liberation and state violence. Founded by freed slaves in 1791, the church was burned to the ground in 1822 after local white slaveowners became suspicious that its congregants were planning a slave revolt. It was rebuilt, but all-black churches were outlawed in 1834; its congregants still met in secret until they were able to worship together legally again. Today, Emanuel AME has the largest capacity of any black church in Charleston.

With such a weighted legacy of violence directed at Black churches and Black bodies, this act of terrorism is horrifying and deeply harmful, making what’s already been a tragic year marked by anti-Black violence even harder. It’s also, as Chauncey DeVega writes at Salon, an opportunity for us to take a serious look at the epidemic of white violence.

As shown on MSNBC Wednesday night, a local Charleston reporter asked a group of African-American activists, community leaders what the black community could do to prevent events like the mass shooting at Emanuel Baptist. This bizarre moment continued with the reporter seemingly rejecting the obvious – that racism is an obvious element in the white-on-black murders committed at Emanuel Baptist… there are several phrases and words that are likely to not be used by the corporate news media in the discussions of the Charleston mass murders at the Emanuel Baptist Church.

They include:

1. What is radicalizing white men to commit such acts of domestic terrorism and mass shootings? Are Fox News and the right-wing media encouraging violence?

2. Is something wrong with the white family? Why are their sons and men so violent?

3. What should law enforcement and white politicians do about white crime?

Donations can be made to the Emanuel AME church directly through their website. If you’re in need of mental health support after this traumatic incident, Feminista Jones is coordinating a service to connect people in need with mental health volunteers.

+ As of Wednesday, Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent face possible deportation from the Dominican Republic thanks to a new immigration law. Ostensibly the law is meant to target those who have immigrated illegally from Haiti, but critics of the law say that it might just as easily affect those born in the Dominican Republic who don’t happen to have the required identification papers. Reports indicate that the process of implementing the new law is already not going as was described, with people being forcibly deported before they had a chance to register and supposedly protect themselves from deportation. Many see this law not as an effort to combat illegal immigration, but as an effort by the state to distance the country from Haitians, who have long faced marginalization in the Dominican Republic. The Washington Post has a piece providing some context on the violence that has historically characterized the experience of Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

+ The UN refugee agency has reported that the number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution worldwide reached a record high in 2014: almost 60 million.

UNHCR head Antonio Guterres told the BBC the “world is a mess”. “The drama is that if people think that humanitarians can clean up the mess. It’s no longer possible. We have no capacities to pick up the pieces. “More and more people are suffering, and unfortunately for many of them there is no chance to support them.”

+ In a story that highlights the danger that many trans and/or gender nonconforming people face when using public restrooms, a Detroit woman was thrown out of a restaurant after using the bathroom and having a security guard perceive her gender incorrectly.

+ In Fairfield, Ohio, this week saw another case of police behaving out of control at a pool and assaulting black children and teens.

According to reports, the altercation began after a minor violation of local rules quickly spun out of control. Krystal Dixon dropped off her children and nieces at the pool, but when one child didn’t have a bathing suit, staff demanded the family leave. It was at that time the police were called and things spun out of control, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Police slammed a 12-year-old girl against a squad car and pepper sprayed another teen; both were unarmed and not a viable threat to officers’ safety. Two adults were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest as well as a 15-year-old; the 12-year-old girl was charged with assault. She suffered a jaw fracture and broken ribs. Fairfield’s mayor supports the police’s actions in the case, saying “This is an unfortunate situation and our officers had a tough situation there. But I think they did a good job in showing restraint.” The city of Fairfield, and presumably by extension the mayor’s office, can be reached by phone at (513) 867-5300.

+ Kenlissia Jones, who attempted to terminate her pregnancy by taking misoprostol, was initially charged with murder of the fetus. Those charges have since been dropped because the District Attorney has since realized that Georgia law doesn’t actually allow him to prosecute Jones (although she’s still charged with possession of a dangerous drug, a misdemeanor). Jones’ story is reminiscent of that of Purvi Patel, sentenced to 20 years in jail for feticide after having a miscarriage.

kenlissia

+ Loretta Lynch has been sworn in as our Attorney General.

+ A third grade teacher, Omar Currie, was forced to resign after reading a book about two princes that fall in love to his class, in an effort to comfort a child who came to him crying because he was called gay by a classmate. The assistant principal who lent Currie the book has also been forced into resignation.

+ A bizarre Arizona law that would require doctors to tell their patients seeking medication abortions that those abortions are “reversible” and refer those patients to doctors who can “reverse” their abortions is temporarily blocked. The medical backing for this concept, based entirely on the claims of one doctor whose investigations into the practice do not sound very sound or rigorous, is dubious. The next hearing on the case is scheduled for October.

+ James Cosby, the primary suspect in the murders of Black lesbian couple Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, is now facing charges. He was indicted on charges of capital murder on Tuesday.

+ The Treasury Secretary has announced that a woman will be the new face of the US $10 bill. The specific woman has not been chosen yet; the decision will be made later this summer, and in the meantime you can submit your thoughts at thenew10.treasury.gov.


Are you following us on Facebook?

Profile gravatar of Rachel

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 996 articles for us.

22 Comments

    • 0

      There was an organization that did an online poll (Women on the 20), and Harriet Tubman won. I’m personally extra-excited to have someone with some of the same medical disabilities as me be chosen (assuming the government honors that choice). Its definitely an extra-level of awesomeness to have a person with (hidden) disabilities chosen.

  1. 0

    I am glad to see a woman will finally be on the bill, but I wish it was on something like the $5 instead of the 10. From what I am reading $10 bill is a bit less circulated than the others. Plus, Hamilton was the countries was responsible essentially for the system of bills we had to day. I think the $1 bill would be better cause Washington is already on coin, no reason to have him on both. Plus, the 1 bill is more circulated than $10.

  2. 0

    I have a pressing question: in the US, to be a cop, it’s necessary to be a psychopath? Because it seems that social restraint it’s a big NO NO (no matter what that stupid Mayor said in his statement).

    If you have a 12 year old with a broken jaw and broken ribs and you charged her with assault, I really want to see how the person she assaulted looks like today.

    • 0

      They’ve actually done studies in the U.S. that show that there is a higher than average level of sociopaths who become police officers. It’s unclear if the job makes people sociopathic, or if sociopaths are naturally drawn to the power, or if they’re recruited due to some institutional bias (or some combo of the three), but you’re not too far off.

      • 0

        As my mom told me after my first real interaction with the police, “there are a lot of jobs that you can go into if you want to help people, but you become a cop because you want to boss people around and carry a gun.”

        Yes, I’m sure there are really nice cops, but you don’t get to tackle people if you are a nurse or a fire fighter. So yeah, I can see how certain people would be especially drawn to the job.

  3. 0

    You always hear pundits on Fox News and other right-wing media (Limbaugh for example) go on and on about “black-on-black violence” and how gangs and the high incarceration rate for black males is all due to family dynamics (deadbeat dads) and dependence on the government via welfare (“welfare queens”)… But as soon as a white guy shoots up an elementary school, or a white guy shoots up a movie theater, or a white guy shoots up a historically as well as religiously significant church within the black community, we are not allowed to have an actual conversation about the true factors that went into these guys’ despicable actions. Instead, we just sweep it aside by declaring the guy to be crazy and so it keeps happening…

    The asshole at AME flashed off his Confederate gear, wore a pro-Apartheid patch on his jacket, made racist jokes, and yet to his friends he was NOT A RACIST (merely prideful of the south, which don’t even get me started on the Confederate flag flying out at full mass outside SC’s state house) and to the media he was but a “quiet”, “unassuming” “kid”. The signs were all there…even the pictures of the guy make him seem menacing.

    First order of business for the SC legislatures and the governor – get rid of that damn Confederate flag. I heard that the flag is literally mounted at the top of that pole at full mast so it cannot be lowered unless it is taken down completely, and they can only take it down if the SC legislative votes for it. Newsflash, SC: That flag is not a symbol of Southern pride. It is a symbol of black enslavement, black disenfranchisement, black oppression, and the divide that continues to separate blacks from whites in a state still dripping with racism.

    This turned out longer than I thought it would be. Of course, all my thoughts and prayers go to those affected by the act of terrorism at Charleston. 🙁

      • 0

        Thank you… I’m just so heartbroken today. Almost every day we see an injustice towards the black community, from the shooting of an unarmed black person to the use of racial slurs by prominent figures and now to the shooting of a church that has so much meaning and significance. We take a few days to think about how we as a nation have never allowed ourselves to heal from the wound that remains from slavery and Jim Crow and then we find ourselves distracted by other matters and we never move on. The Reconstruction Era lasted only a decade, and the Civil Rights Era was cut short by the murder of MLK and the beginning of the War on Drugs by Nixon. America never allows itself to fully progress, we always find some other way to further oppress the oppressed (sharecropping, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, police brutality). The only solace I found today was by watching Jon Stewart on The Daily Show actually verbalize what many have been saying, that this was more than just a tragedy, this guy was more than an outlier, he was a racist who wanted to start a civil war and who symbolizes the part of America that continues to struggle under the weight of our race issues.

  4. 0

    Like, even the good news is kind of mediocre? I’m excited about the woman on the money…but I really wanted that awful fucker Andrew Jackson gone.

    Well maybe… maybe… we could have a woman on the ten and a woman on the twenty. Whoa, I know, slow down, progress.

    I think I’m only commenting on that one tiny last thing because my heart is so heavy about all the other things. Regardless: thanks, Rachel, for the round-up.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!