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Other Voices: Roof’s poison ideas must die

Better idea

Young and old, black and white attended a Salisbury vigil honoring the memory of the nine people murdered in a Charleston church. Jon Lakey/Salisbury Post

Young and old, black and white attended a Salisbury vigil honoring the memory of the nine people murdered in a Charleston church. Jon Lakey/Salisbury Post

After two hours of deliberation, a jury found Dylann Roof guilty of the June 2015 murder of nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

The outcome of the trial was never really in doubt. There was overwhelming evidence against the 22-year-old white supremacist, including the testimony of eyewitness Felicia Sanders. Roof allowed her to live so that she would tell the world what he did and why he said he did it.

Sanders, who lost a son to Roof’s gun violence that night, told the jury about the killer’s stated hatred of black people for “raping our women” and for “taking over” a country that belonged to white people.

Roof’s hatred for minorities was proclaimed on his various social media platforms where he documented his drift into white supremacist radicalization. He can be seen posing with guns and Confederate battle flags.

There was also the evidence of Roof’s own confession after the police took him into custody. He talked about the hospitality and gentleness of his nine victims and how they welcomed him into their evening Bible study. He returned their prayers and gestures of friendship with dozens of rounds of gunfire because his intention was to start a race war.

The jury did what any decent jury confronted with horrendous evil would do — it convicted Roof on all 33 federal counts against him.

Next month, Roof will face the same jury as part of the sentencing phase, but this time he will represent himself. The options before the jury are life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Only absolute opponents of capital punishment could reject it in this case.

The racists Roof had been counting on to rally around him after being inspired by his horrific act of violence failed to materialize. Dylann Roof is the one who will be punished for what he did that night. It may take a community to breed a hater, but when it comes to facing justice for his crimes, every hater is on his own.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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