World in View: Charleston terrorism

July 8, 2015

From the July-August 2015 issue of News & Letters

The racist murder of nine people at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, is the characteristic U.S. form of terrorism. It is directed against the expression of Black self-determination, specifically Black Lives Matter and the recent protests against the police murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston.

The slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney was involved in the protests and had counseled Scott’s family. He also served as a State Senator and got a law passed requiring police body cameras. The other dead included six women and two other men.

Emanuel A.M.E. Church was co-founded by historic freedom fighter Denmark Vesey, whose 1822 insurrection, though it was discovered and crushed, shook up the slave South. The killer upheld the “lost cause” flag of the Confederacy, beside those of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia.

The struggle to uproot racist terror—whether expressed as legal slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, lynch mobs, imperialism, dogs trained to savage humans, the prison system, or police murders—runs through U.S. history like a red thread. Only the complete uprooting of this racist, capitalist society will finally eliminate its terrorist dregs.

—Gerry Emmett

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