To Properly Mourn the Murder Victims at the Emanuel AME Church We Must Rededicate Ourselves to the Fight Against Racism

Statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America

Democratic Socialists of America grieves the loss of the lives of nine innocent human beings who were all leading activists and mentors within the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the larger Charleston community. We express our solidarity with the members of the Charleston AME church and the larger black community of Charleston. The lives and names of the victims must not be forgotten:  Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend and State Senator Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr., Reverend Sharonda Singleton and Myran Thompson.

The shooting, which was perpetrated by a 21-year-old white man, was shocking not only in the massive loss of life but also in the murderer's use of the hospitality of a prayer group to enter the historic Charleston AME Church. The “Mother Emanuel” church since its founding in 1816 has served as a safe haven and movement center for Charleston’s black community. The original church was burned to the ground by the white community in 1822, once the plans of Denmark Vesey and other church activists for a massive slave revolt were leaked to the authorities. The murder of today’s parishioners is accurately described as an act of white racist terror; the choice of the site of this heinous act is unlikely to have been accidental.

The Black Lives Matter movement continues to contend correctly that these incidents are not isolated nor the work of deranged individuals. They are part of a centuries-long pattern of white violence against blacks, which takes the form of brutal physical coercion alongside economic and social exclusion. Not coincidentally, the confessed killer wore jackets with patches from apartheid South Africa and white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). These regimes were founded to maintain both racist ideology and white control of the economy and domination of black labor.

Democratic Socialists of America condemns not only the murder of these nine women and men but also the politicians, pundits and purveyors of injustice who refuse to acknowledge that this was an attack of racist terror. DSA believes it is more important than ever for everyone, particularly white people, to fight against racial injustice. The violence must stop, and we all must take part in stopping the racist attacks and murders of our African-American brothers and sisters.

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