Charleston church members work towards healing after tragic hate crime

World Today

In 2015, hate crimes targeted black people more than any other group, with more than 1,700 that year. That’s nearly three times the number of white people who were targeted.

That’s also more than every person targeted that same year due to their religion.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Charleston church works towards healing after tragic hate crime

In 2015, hate crimes targeted black people more than any other group, with more than 1,700 that year. CGTN's Roee Ruttenberg reports from the U.S. state of South Carolina.


The new pastor at Mother Emanuel Church, Eric S.C. Manning, has said it’ll take time for his congregation to heal, though the process of forgiving has already begun.

A wall outside his office honors the nine people, eight worshipers and the pastor’s predecessor, who were gunned down at the historically black church in June 2015.

Prosecutors said the young white supremacist who pulled the trigger planned to attack a second black church before being caught. In December 2016, he was convicted of murder. He was also found guilty of violating federal hate crime laws.

South Carolina is one of just five U.S. states that does not have its own hate crime statutes, making local prosecution more difficult.

“This is not a South Carolina problem. This is a world problem, when you talk about hate crimes. But in South Carolina, we have to catch up. If we don’t do anything, if we continue to turn our backs and a deaf ear, I can almost assure you, sad to say, that you’ll have all sorts of incidents that are unspeakable,” Wendell Gilliard , a South Carolina state representative said.

National hate crime statistics are based on state authorities self-reporting. This means that the numbers of local anti-black hate crimes, particularly in states like South Carolina, can be significantly underrepresented.

Official figures showed nearly a decade of decline in anti-black attacks. They spiked following President Barack Obama’s election and have surged again following Donald Trump’s victory.

Even so, local historian Bill Hine has said these incidents don’t exist in a social vacuum.

“It begins with the settlement of North and South America by Europeans and of the Africans who they forced into labor here, and it persisted through slavery, lynching, the rigid effort to hold onto segregation, to maintain dominance over a black population, particularly in areas where there was a large black population,” Hine said.

For some, time has given the perspective of experience, as well as a chance to offer advice to other minority groups dealing with hate.

“You have to begin to say that I’m not going to let this form of hatred, keep me. I’m not gonna let it suppress me, I’m going to stand. I’m going to speak truth to power. I’m going to do what is required to ensure that the laws are changed, that people are seen equally, I’m not going to give up,’ Pastor Manning said. ‘And if that means losing everything that I have, so be it. And I think sometimes we have to have that spirit of resiliency, which has become so prevalent within the African-American community.”

Hilary Shelton of the NAACP discusses hate crimes in the US

For more on hate crimes towards the black community, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Hilary Shelton. She is the NAACP Washington bureau director and the senior vice president for advocacy.