F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Wrong: Dylann Roof Is A Politically-inspired Terrorist

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Columnist says FBI chief Comey is wrong; Roof is a terrorist

[Speaking Truth To Power]

South Carolina Massacre and Church Fires

Within a week, of the murders of nine African-Americans in the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by the hands of a racist murderer Dylan Roof some six churches in the South have gone up in flames—occurrences that are no doubt connected to the historic attacks Black churches have faced at the hands of Southern racists.

The fires are symbolic of the now open-display of violent racism that has flared-up at a time when America’s first African-American president sits in the White House— and when the racial demographics of the nation is making it slowly but surely less White than it has been traditionally.

The racial make-up of the U.S. is changing irreversibly.

Given this new reality, this question must be pondered: are we entering into a period where White racial anxiety makes it more likely that we will see more hate crimes against African-Americans and other ethnic minority-population groups?

Since the deadly carnage perpetrated by Dylan Roof, at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, at least six churches in the South have been torched, and, arson has been confirmed as the cause in three of them.

Just days after the Charleston murders, on Sunday June 21, the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee ignited after someone set fire to bales of hay outside of this church.

A couple of days later, on June 23, God’s Power Church in Macon, Georgia was set afire. Arriving firefighters found the front doors of the church wired shut and reportedly had to enter through a side door to fight the blaze. "'What’'s the church doing on fire?'’ That was my response to it,”" Associate Pastor Jeanette Dudley told WMAZ-TV. “"I just couldn'’t believe it, and once I got here, I did. I cried. I cried for a little bit.”"

Then, the next day, on June 24, it took some 75 firefighters over an hour to extinguish a fire at Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in East Charlotte, North Carolina. According to Charlotte Fire Department Senior Investigator David Williams, a probe found that the fire “was intentionally set.”

Days later, on June 26, the Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville South Carolina was burned to the ground. “"Everything is gone; — books, robes, all my pictures, all my degrees,"” the Rev. Bobby Jean Jones told the Aiken Standard. “"All the history is gone.”"

And on that same day, another fire occurred at Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida. This fire is also under investigation.

Attacks on African-American churches have a long history in America, given the importance of Black churches as rallying points for activism in the fight against racism and white supremacy and as important institutions and sanctuaries for Black America.

Attacks on African-American churches can be traced going backward in time from the church burnings in the 1990’s; to the infamous 1963 bombing of the 16 Street Baptist Church, in Alabama, by the KKK killed four little Black girls; to the beginnings of the Mother Emanuel AME Church; that was burned, by White supremacists, after it was discovered that founding member and freedom-fighter Denmark Vesey was planning a massively intricate Slave revolt. The legendary Vesey, inspired by the successful Haitian Revolution that ended in 1804, was executed, with others, on July 2, 1822.

Although murderer Dylan Roof is being characterized as a lone insane nut, it’s obvious his targeting of the Mother Emanuel AME Church wasn’t made at random. Why would he drive two hours to inflict murder and misery on these congregants? Was it not the fact that Mother Emanuel AME Church has a long history of fighting for the freedom of African-Americans, going back to the days of the Underground Railroad and Denmark Vesey and is still a community cornerstone?

In fact, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, as a sitting state senator, pushed for a police body-camera bill in South Carolina after the malevolent murder of Walter Scott by Officer Michael Slager. On the floor of the South Carolina Senate, Pinckney spoke out on the chilling killing of Mr. Scott that was caught on video by Feidin Santana.

Here is an excerpt of what Senator Pinckney said on the floor of the South Carolina Senate in the aftermath of the Walter Scott killing:

"Today, the nation looks at South Carolina and is looking at us to see if we will rise to be the body, and to be the state that we really say that we are. Over this past week, many of us have seen on the television, have read in newspapers, and have seen all the reports about Walter Scott, who, in my words, was murdered in North Charleston…. “But there were many who said, 'There is no way that a police officer would ever shoot somebody in the back 6, 7, 8, times.'

"But like Thomas, when we were able to see the video, and we were able to see the gun shots, and when we saw him fall to the ground, and when we saw the police officer come and handcuff him on the ground, without even trying to resuscitate him, without even seeing if he was really alive, without calling an ambulance, without calling for help, and to see him die face down in the ground as if he were gunned down like game, I believe we all were like Thomas, and said, 'I believe….'

"“We have a great opportunity to allow sunshine into this process. It is my hope that as South Carolina senators, that we will stand up for what is best and good about our state and really adopt this legislation and find a way to have body cameras in South Carolina.”

Some people have cited Senator Pinckney’s speech before the South Carolina Senate as a decisive factor in gaining enough bipartisan support to pass the police body-camera bill which was then signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley.

One question we must ponder is: how much did Senator Pinckney’s political efforts play in Dylan Roof’s particular targeting of Pinckney? We know Roof specifically asked for the preacher. Was this because he knew Reverend Pinckney was one of the driving forces behind the push for police body cameras?

FBI Director James Comey said Roof'’s action wasn't "terrorism" because he had no “political” motive.

Comey said: "Terrorism is act of violence done or threatens to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don’t see it as a political act."

How does the director come to such a head-scratching conclusion given the facts we know? The intentional targeting of this church with its historic record of Black resistance —and its’ preacher who is an important voice in the state senate— wasn'’t attacked because of political reasons?

Moreover, Roof, a fan of the old racist Rhodesia-regime and apartheid South Africa, could have shot any five people he encountered on the street on that day. He wanted to make a political statement by targeting Rev. Pinckney and his AME church members.

Comey's will go down as one of the most bone-headed statement in history.

Surely, many in America’'s political establishment, in particular those on the Republican and conservative side, would like us to agree with the assessment of Mr. Comey.  But that notion is hooey. This attack was another episode of political terror aimed at African-Americans.

The push by Republicans to remove the Confederate Flag, while welcomed, will not be enough to systematically address the profound prejudice and racial animus that is embedded rock solid into the foundation of this nation. It is indeed a stunning sight to see political provocateurs in the Republican Party who use the racist political philosophy of the “Southern Strategy” now pretending not to know where the racial hatred expressed by Dylan Roof comes from.

Republicans and right-wingers have been using racially disruptive tactics for decades to obtain political objectives. Those who attack Welfare, Food Stamps and other programs for the poor often frame the opposition in a racist manner signaling to their White allies that these programs were created due to Civil Rights activism for African-Americans.

The attacks on African-American churches is without a doubt usually being perpetrated by those who listen to and have an affinity for racist right-wing punditry and Republican rhetoric.

Will Republicans start distancing themselves from the odious, divisive, political practices that provokes prejudice and White Supremacy as we move forward into the 21 Century?

 

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