There's been an outpouring of grief and condolences in the wake of the Wednesday night massacre in Charleston, S.C., where a 21-year-old white man named Dylan Storm Roof shot and killed nine people in the historically-black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to police.
The nation's largest and most influential LGBT organizations already released statements about the shooting (see below), which is being investigated by federal authorities as a hate crime. As Think Progress points out, South Carolina is one of five U.S. states without any sort of hate crimes law.
Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell:
"There are moments when a headline is too much to comprehend. This is such a moment. The nightmare shooting and murder in Charleston of nine black African American parishioners in a hate fueled racially motivated attack leaves us bereft and sick. There are really no words. We grieve for the families and for our country. We know our nation cannot go on like this and yet, here we are. Will enough ever be enough? Until we are willing to address race and entrenched racism in this country, the headlines will continue."
Statement from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin:
"Today we are once again tragically reminded of the serious and widespread problem we face as a nation with violent, hate-motivated crimes — a problem which we as a nation must commit to addressing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the communities impacted by this horrific and senseless tragedy in Charleston seemingly targeted because of their race. As this heinous crime reverberates across the entire country, we stand united with allies and friends nationwide to end the cycle of violence motivated by hatred."
Statement from National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey:
"It is with a heavy heart that we join in mourning those killed in last night's tragic shooting at a Charleston historically Black church. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the murder victims and the entire community of Charleston.
This massacre is frighteningly reminiscent of the tragedies of another era taking place in churches in the South. While many would like to think that our nation has eliminated racism and discrimination, this appalling act of hate shows that we have not. As this violent epidemic, the targeting and killing of Black people, continues with no end in sight — it becomes ever more clear that it is everyone's responsibility to end all forms of racism and discrimination. No one, absolutely no one, should ever fear for their lives when stepping out of their homes, walking down the street in their own neighborhood, or attending a prayer services in their place of worship.
We thank the U.S. Justice Department for providing support in the investigation of this national tragedy. The perpetrator of this horrific act must be brought to justice and we must all work harder to create a society free from murder, violence and hate crimes."
Statement from Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis:
"The horrendous crime that took the lives of nine African-Americans at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday is heart wrenching. In moments like these, words often fail, but we must speak out when senseless, racist violence takes innocent lives. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.
There is no justice that will bring back these nine people nor salve the grief of the surviving family members. The racist motivation of this murderer is another stark reminder that we must speak up and out to declare that #BlackLivesMatter. We will not rest until every corner of our country has heard that message and takes it to heart.
It is disgusting and deplorable that some are painting this act of hatred as anything other than racially motivated. The Emmanuel AME church is a symbol of black liberation and the killer was explicit about his motivation - even going so far as to tell a survivor he spared her so she could tell others what happened. Those who try to paint this as anti-Christian violence are deplorably engaging in whitewashing the truth of the matter to perpetuate a false narrative.
The violence, the racism, and the denial all must end. We are better than this."