Church pastor slain in S.C. laid to rest at state capitol
The body of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the state senator and pastor gunned down with eight others at a historic black church in Charleston last week, was taken on Wednesday to the South Carolina capitol to lie in state inside the rotunda.
Pinckney’s casket arrived on a horse-drawn military carriage, passing by the hotly disputed Confederate battle flag flying on the State House grounds in Columbia, the state capital. Eight state police officers in dress uniform served as pallbearers.
Gov. Nikki Haley and other politicians came out onto the State House steps to pay their respects to the 41-year-old Democrat, who had been widely admired for the way he blended politics with his faith.
The pastor-politician and eight other black men and women were shot to death during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist on June 17. Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, has been arrested and charged with all nine murders.
Pinckney’s funeral will be held in Charleston on Friday when President Barack Obama is due to deliver the eulogy. First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are also expected to be in attendance.
The Charleston church attack came after months of intense debate over U.S. race relations following in the wake of killings of unarmed black men by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri; New York City; Baltimore and elsewhere.
It also ignited a political debate over the Civil War-era flag of the South’s pro-slavery Confederacy, with mounting calls for the “Stars and Bars” to be removed from the State House grounds, among other places.
Family and friends look on at the coffin of church pastor and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney at the State House./