Why the Dylan Roof Trial is Important to Charleston and America

By Mark A. Leon

In June, 2015, Charleston came under international spotlight with one of the most heinous acts ever committed in the United States.? It sent shivers down the spines of citizens around the world and awakened feelings that most have left hidden for years.? Today, after an emotional trial, the sentencing begins and the fate of this murder rests in the hands of twelve citizens.? By the end of today or this week, Dylan Roof will either spend his life in a confined cell or meet his death.

Why has this act and trial been so important to Charleston and America?? We determined some core reasons

  • It brought to the spotlight that racial tensions continue to exist in the United States.? President Obama broke a life changing and eminent barrier becoming the first African American President of the United States.? He has fought for racial equality as have prominent leaders for centuries.? The struggle still exists.? This act was a reminder of the true separation point that still remains between blacks and whites
  • Gun control is a real concern.? Whether you are pro or anti, the argument remains, guns are in the hands of some bad people.? Any sane person, knows, if a criminal or insane individual wants a gun, no amount of legislation will stop them.? The black market is and will continue to exist.? Maybe it is time for lawmakers to stop going after the law-abiding owners and look at ways to infiltrate the underground weapons market.
  • Peace has a place in the wake of tragedy.? Whether it is a murder or losing the World Series, many cities around the country choose, violence, looting, anger and hate to address their feelings.? Charleston demonstrated love, unity and hope as their method of grieving.
  • Prayer and faith are stronger than most can comprehend.? On a quiet Wednesday evening in a house of worship, nine innocent worshippers lost their lives in what most deem the safest place in the world; under the watchful eye of our Lord.? That was not the case for Emanuel AME.? Today, congregants in Charleston and around the country, remain strong to their faith and beliefs.
  • This goes much deeper than black and white.? Some may simplify this event as a hate crime by a white male on the black population.? Since the event, we have learned that this is not a factor simply of black and white.? Education, ignorance, embedded hatred and economics were all contributing factors not just for this event, but similar incidence in the past.
  • We are not driven by fear – The shootings could have had a devastating impact on this community.? We could have been cautious where we prayed, shopped or walked.? We could have ignored other races and creeds passing by, but we didn’t.? Charleston continues to be one of the friendliest cities in the United States and that is something we are proud of.
  • The punishment fits the crime.? How many times do we see criminals released because they could afford the best lawyers or serve limited sentences for good behavior.? No matter what the jury rules, justice will be served.
  • Remembrance is a way to keep legacies alive – Each year we remember the fallen.? A beautiful mural remains at Redux and flowers continue to be left at the entrance way of the church.? Throughout the world, Charleston was showered for months with well wishes.? That is a way to find goodness in evil; to remember.

As we see the final chapter of this horrific moment in our history play out, our thoughts continue to remain with the victims, families, congregation, Charleston and the world.