New York, NY, June 18, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed horror and profound sorrow at the tragic murder of nine parishioners during a prayer meeting at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
According to ADL’s Center on Extremism, the suspect in the shootings, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, may have white supremacist leanings. A photo of Roof posted to his Facebook page shows him wearing a jacket with two patches. One patch is the flag of the apartheid-era government of South Africa, now used as a hate symbol by white supremacists. The other is the flag of the former white-controlled government of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe after white-rule ended; this flag, too, is symbolically important to white supremacists.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Mark Moskowitz, ADL Southeast Regional Director, issued the following statement:
The shooting rampage at Emanuel AME Church evokes memories of the bombing that killing four black schoolgirls at a church in Birmingham, Alabama more than 50 years ago. That tragedy was a wake-up call for all of us, and this one should be too.
Even though this suspect has not yet been apprehended, from what we know about this unspeakable crime, it is hard to imagine that there could have been any motive other than hate. We should all be looking in the mirror this morning and asking ourselves how such a tragedy could happen in America in 2015, and what we can do to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
We are confident that federal, state and local law enforcement authorities are doing all they can to locate and arrest the perpetrator, and to ensure that the interests of justice are served.
Our prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the members of their congregation and community. We hope they can find some measure of strength and comfort in the support of the countless people around the U.S. and the world whose thoughts are with them today.