High emo­tions as Charleston mourns vic­tims


Emo­tions ran high as de­fi­ant mourn­ers held the first fu­neral ser­vices Thurs­day for nine African Amer­i­cans shot dead by a white al­leged su­prem­a­cist in a Charleston church.

Hun­dreds filed past the open cof­fin of Ethel Lance, 70, at a fu­neral home in North Charleston, ahead of an af­ter­noon ser­vice for Sharonda Sin­gle­ton, 45.

The de­ceased were among the Bi­ble study group that was tar­geted in the June 17 mas­sacre at the his­toric Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church.

Dy­lann Roof, 21, is charged with mur­der in con­nec­tion with the mul­ti­ple killings, which he re­port­edly hoped would trig­ger a race war be­tween blacks and whites.

U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is sched­uled to de­liver the eu­logy at Fri­day’s fu­neral of another vic­tim, Emanuel’s chief pas­tor Cle­menta Pinck­ney, 41.

Obama will also meet the fam­i­lies of some of the other vic­tims.

There was raw emo­tion at the Royal Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church as friends and rel­a­tives bid a fi­nal farewell to Lance, a custo- dian at a Charleston arts cen­ter.

“I am here to tell you that we are stronger be­cause we are to­gether as a com­mu­nity,” Rev­erend Norvell Goff told the mourn­ers, the lo­cal Post and Courier news­pa­per re­ported.

Lance was later laid to rest at the Emanuel ceme­tery, where her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren kissed her cof­fin and well- wish­ers threw roses into her grave.

Sin­gle­ton, a speech pathol­o­gist, high- school track coach and pas­tor at Emanuel, was re­mem­bered by a ca­pac­ity crowd at the 2,000- seat Mount Mo­riah Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church.

“She be­lieved she could change ev­ery child,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley, who at­tended both fu­neral ser­vices.

Seen in the pews were Jesse Jack­son and Al Sharp­ton, two of the most rec­og­niz­able civil rights ac­tivists in the United States to­day.

Obama “will be mind­ful of not just how sad it is that those in­di­vid­u­als were taken from us, but also use the oc­ca­sion to celebrate their lives,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“Many of them, in the way that they went about their day- to- day lives, I do think serve as a gen­uine in­spi­ra­tion to oth­ers about the way that they lived their lives and about the val­ues that they sought to em­body.”

Thou­sands Pay Re­spects

Thou­sands have vis­ited Pinck­ney’s open cof­fin at the South Carolina leg­is­la­ture in the state cap­i­tal Columbia, where he had served as a sen­a­tor.

Ser­vices for the other vic­tims are sched­uled through­out the week­end and into next week.

Mean­while, the cam­paign against the Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag fly­ing out­side the South Carolina leg­is­la­ture picked up steam.

Adding his voice to the move­ment was Col­lege of Charleston pres­i­dent Glenn McCon­nell, a for­mer Repub­li­can lieu­tenant gover­nor and avid bat­tle re- en­ac­tor.

As a state sen­a­tor, McCon­nell fa­vored the po­si­tion­ing of the flag along­side a Con­fed­er­ate me­mo­rial on the State House grounds 15 years ago.

Some re­vere the Civil War-

Civil War era ban­ner as an em­blem of South­ern her­itage, but oth­ers con­demn it as a sym­bol of racial ha­tred and white supremacy.

Roof’s get­away car — he was ar­rested in North Carolina one day af­ter the shoot­ing — bore a Con­fed­er­ate li­cense plate, and photos later emerged online of him bran­dish­ing the flag to­gether with a hand­gun.

Ha­ley, a Repub­li­can with Tea Party sup­port, has come out in fa­vor of re­mov­ing the flag, but the fi­nal de­ci­sion hinges on a vote by the state leg­is­la­ture.


(Above) Pall­bear­ers re­lease doves over the casket of Ethel Lance dur­ing her burial ser­vice on Thurs­day, June 25. (Right) Bran­don Risher, left, is pulled away by a friend as he cries over the casket of his grand­mother, Ethel Lance, fol­low­ing her burial ser­vice on Thurs­day.

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