[guest post by Dana]
Dylann Roof, who opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last year, killing nine parishioners, was found guilty today:
Roof was charged with 33 counts in his federal indictment. He was found guilty on every single one. Family members of the nine parishioners gunned down last year nodded silently as each charge was read aloud. Some held hands, their eyes shut tightly, as each guilty verdict was announced in the courtroom just a mile from the church.
According to reports, Roof’s mother had a heart attack during the proceedings when she heard prosecutors lay out in graphic detail her son’s plans to start a race war.
It will be determined in January whether Roof will be sentenced to death or face life in prison. Roof is planning to represent himself at the sentencing phase of the trial.
Interestingly, a recent poll revealed more black South Carolinians would rather that Roof be given a life sentence instead of the death penalty:
According to the poll, 64.9% of African Americans in South Carolina oppose the death penalty, while 69.4% of white South Carolinians say they support it. Blacks were also more than twice as likely to support a sentence of life without parole for the church killings than to support the death penalty. Nearly two-thirds of black South Carolinians (64.7%) said that Roof should be sentenced to life without parole if convicted of the nine killings, while less than a third (30.9%) favored the death penalty.
The views of white South Carolinians were diametrically opposite, with 64.6% saying they think Roof should be sentenced to death if convicted and 29.9% prefering life without parole. 5.6% of whites said they did not know which sentence should be imposed.
As a reminder, this is the divine love of grace and strength and mercy offered to Roof from surviving relatives at a bond hearing:
Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance
“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
Relative of Myra Thompson
“I would just like him to know that, to say the same thing that was just said: I forgive him and my family forgives him. But we would like him to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that He can change him and change your ways, so no matter what happens to you, you’ll be okay.”
Felicia Sanders, mother of Tywanza Sanders
“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and I’ll, I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. … May God have mercy on you.”
Wanda Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”
Sister of DePayne Middleton Doctor
“That was my sister, and I’d like to thank you on behalf of my family for not allowing hate to win. For me, I’m a work in progress. And I acknowledge that I am very angry. But one thing that DePayne always enjoined in our family … is she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
And, because some “professional” journalists simply can’t help themselves from a delusional exploitation of the horrific event, and because there will always be hate, there is this:
Roof’s crime is so monstrous that it may rankle to put him on the same continuum as Trump. But to see both with clear eyes is to see the link between demonization and aggression, between Trump’s rhetoric, simmering with menace, and the wave of harassment, intimidation, and outright violence that followed his victory. It’s to see both Donald Trump and Dylann Roof as heralds of the darkest forces in American life, to see their common heritage in a rising tide of white identity and white nationalism.