These are statements both on social media and in press releases released by various state and national leaders and organizations.
Hillary Clinton via Twitter, 12:38 a.m. “Heartbreaking news from Charleston – my thoughts and prayers are with you all-H”
Police Chief Greg Mullen, 5:37 a.m. “It is unfathomable that someone in today’s society could walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.”
Rand Paul via Twitter 6:47 a.m. “Kelley and I are praying for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy in Charleston.”
Mayor Joe Riley, 6:56 a.m. “An evil and hateful person took the lives of citizens who had come to worship and pray together.”
Governor Nikki Haley, 7:15 a.m. “Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another. Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers.”
NACCP President Cornell William Brooks: “The N.A.A.C.P. was founded to fight against racial hatred, and we are outraged that 106 years later, we are faced today with another mass hate crime. Our heartfelt prayers and soul-deep condolences go out to the families and community of the victims at Charleston’s historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study. There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture. Today I mourn as an A.M.E. minister, as a student and teacher of scripture, as well as a member of the N.A.A.C.P. The N.A.A.C.P. South Carolina State Conference and Charleston Branch have been working on the ground — with police and the community to bring this case to a close. We remain vigilant while the local police and F.B.I. investigate this hate crime and bring the shooter to justice.”
Senator Bernie Sanders: “The Charleston church killings are a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation. This senseless violence fills me with outrage, disgust and a deep, deep sadness. The hateful killing of nine people praying inside a church is a horrific reminder that, while we have made significant progress in advancing civil rights in this country, we are far from eradicating racism. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their congregation.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, Co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions: “Once again, a senseless act of gun violence has brought terror, tragedy and pain to one of our communities. And once again, gunfire and bloodshed has visited one of America’s houses of worship. This time, a shooting has shattered the community at Emanuel AME church whose congregants have stood so often on the side of the needy and of peace. our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Emanuel AME church and the families of those who were taken in this tragedy.”
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the people of Charleston. We are all heartbroken by this tragedy. To the families of the victims please know that you are being prayed for and loved by so many in the community and across the nation. I pray that God will provide you healing in the coming days. There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate. Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts. Our sense of security and well-being has been robbed and shaken.”
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, Jaime Harrison: “Last night, South Carolina lost an inspirational leader and eight parishioners who were gathered in their house of worship. And I lost a dear friend. As we mourn, we should remember the spirit of those gathered at Mother Emanuel last night. We should hold their love in our hearts. My friend, State Senator Clementa Pinckney, was a husband, a father, a son, a pastor, and much more. He was compassionate, caring, stoic, and he brought people together for all the right reasons. He was a great man. We should also remember the mission of Mother Emanuel. For two centuries Mother Emanuel has served as a force for change through the power of love. Mother Emanuel’s resiliency should serve as an example to us all. I ask all of South Carolina and citizens across the nation to lift up in prayer this community and the families of the victims of this terroristic act. We will not bow our knees to hatred, but stiffen our backs and continue to fight for harmony, truth and justice for all.”
Charleston Mayoral candidate John Tecklenburg: “Words cannot express the heartbreak that Sandy and I are feeling today. For almost 200 years, Mother Emanuel AME Church has been a sanctuary of peace and love in our community, a place where men and women of faith have come together for prayer and fellowship in good times and bad. Last night, that sanctuary was desecrated by an act of pure evil that took the lives of nine of our fellow citizens, including my friend, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. But that single evil act, horrific as it is, does not define us. We are not a city of hate. We are a city of tolerance and peace and love. And in the hours ahead, as our entire Charleston family comes together to support the victims of this terrible tragedy, the world will see a city united in prayer and common purpose, as we grieve for the good people of Mother Emanuel AME, and seek justice for the heinous crime that’s been committed not just against them, but against us all.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: “This morning we are all trying to make sense of this senseless act. This is pure evil. It’s infuriating. Mankind’s capacity for evil is horrific. I’m enraged by this ungodly act and my heart breaks for these families. I hurt for them. To happen in a place of worship is unconscionable. They were opening their hearts to God and lifting their concerns up to Him. Every American needs to take a few minutes today, and in the days to come, to pray for the families of those murdered last night. They all need the comfort and peace only God can provide and we should all pray they will find it. We also need to ask everyone who might know this suspect to have the courage to come forward and help the police apprehend him. Justice must be done and this killer must face the consequences of his awful actions. This monster needs to hunted down and brought to justice.”
College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell:
“Dear Campus Community: Charleston experienced one of the worst moments in its history last night with the shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Calhoun Street. Our entire campus community sends its thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones affected by this senseless and unthinkable tragedy. Of course, we are all reeling in shock right now, and it is only natural to concentrate on the heinous crime and its disturbed perpetrator. However, I encourage everyone to take a moment and remember the innocent men and women who were killed. By celebrating who they were as people of faith and what they stood for, we do more to honor their memories and their lives. And right now, I want to do just that. Last night, we lost one of our state’s brightest young lawmakers and spiritual leaders: Reverend Clementa Pinckney. I had the honor of serving side by side with him for many years in the State Senate. Reverend Pinckney was a remarkable man and a consistent voice of compassion and reason in the State House. His leadership moved our state forward in a variety of areas, from education and medical affairs, to his most recent work on body cameras for the police force. He will forever serve as a source of pride and inspiration for all South Carolinians. As I am sure Reverend Pinckney would have counseled in this dark moment, the violent act of one must not define us. Rather, we must let the world see how we can and will come together and support one another in our most difficult times. That is the true measure of the people of Charleston. That is our most powerful witness in the face of evil. And together, we stand unified and unbroken. Sincerely yours, Glenn F. McConnell ’69”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Mark Moskowitz, ADL Southeast Regional Director: “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.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford: “I join with the people of Charleston and the Lowcountry of South Carolina in sending both thoughts and prayers to the families affected in the tragedy of Wednesday night. I don’t understand and can’t comprehend this sort of malice. Accordingly, I simply pray that God’s faith, that I know to be so strong at the Emanuel Church, will be part of what gets both their congregation and our community through this horrendous action.”
Gullah Geechee Corridor Commission: “In the completely black darkness of the night and early morning, in the deep recesses of moss-laden oak trees, ponds and lagoons where our ancestors toiled for generations, we drop down — our knees to the cold floor — and we seek understanding, we seek solace, we seek a way out of this ‘no-way.’ Our sobbing voices utter unspoken prayers as we gather in supplication to the spirits that have brought us this far by faith. Our hearts are broken, but we know comfort is there. Our spirits are strong because we know guidance is there. Our faith is triumphant because we know our beloved community is here. ‘Knee-bone, knee-bone, knee-bone, Oh my Lord.'”
Hillary Clinton: “Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina. I was in Charleston yesterday. I went to a technical school—Trident Tech—where I met with young people who are serving apprenticeships. It was such a positive, upbeat, optimistic event. So many of those young people were for the first time seeing what they could do and being paid for doing it.
The administration and faculty of the school was so proud. The businesses that were employing the diverse group of apprentices were getting their money’s worth. And I left feeling not only great about Charleston, but great about America.
When I got to Las Vegas, I learned about the horrific massacre in the church. You know the shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep. Nine people—women and men—cut down at prayer. Murdered in a house of God. It just broke my heart. That of course is the last place we should ever see violence. We shouldn’t see it anywhere.
In the days ahead we will once again ask what led to this terrible tragedy and where we as a nation need to go. In order to make sense of it, we have to be honest. We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns, and division.
Today, we join our hearts with the people of Charleston and South Carolina—people everywhere—who pray for the victims, who pray for the families, who pray for a community that knows too much sorrow. And we pray for justice. That the people of Charleston find peace and that our country finds unity.
The church where these killings took place is known as Mother Emanuel. And like any mother, it holds its flock close. Today is a day to hold each other even closer. More than fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told the families of the girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, “You do not walk alone.” Today we say to the families of Mother Emanuel and to all the people of Charleston, “You do not walk alone.”
You do not walk alone because millions of Americans—regardless of race or creed or ethnicity or religion—are walking with you. In grief. In solidarity. In determination. We are with you. And we stand with you as we seek answers and take action. How many innocent people in our country—from little children, to church members, to movie theater attendees—how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?
So as we mourn and as our hearts break a little more, and as we send this message of solidarity, we will not forsake those who have been victimized by gun violence. This time we have to find answers together. I pledge to you, I will work with you—those of you who are local officials, those of you who are thinking hard about your own communities. Let’s unite in partnership, not just to talk, but to act.”
American Library Association President: “Cynthia Hurd was beloved by her community,” said Young “Her dedication to librarianship was apparent as she worked to transform lives through education and lifelong learning. The thousands of lives she touched over the years will serve as a lasting living legacy. The American Library Association would like to expresses its deepest condolences to Cynthia’s family, as well as the many families impacted by this very senseless and tragic act of violence. As our nation begins to try to make sense of this tragedy, various ALA divisions will reach out to our colleagues in Charleston, South Carolina, to express concern and to lend support. I also would like the people of Charleston to know that the library community’s thoughts and prayers are with you as you work to come together to build a community of tolerance and cultural acceptance.”
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