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AJS Statement on Charleston, S.C. Shootings

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The Alliance for a Just Society joins the world in mourning the brutal deaths of nine people murdered in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, SC this week. We have in our thoughts and prayers the families and lives of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Myra Thompson, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. We may not have known them, but we name them, and vow never to forget the personal victims of racist violence and their stories.

We are appalled by the racist violence and terror. We are angry that more than 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. last spoke in that same church that we are still unable to face racism in our country.

Racism dehumanizes and abuses people of color and reinforces vast inequality, while protecting those with power and privilege. Violence, terror and fear are essential pillars of racism – whether it’s the official violence at the hands of the police and military; vigilante violence by the mob, or the action of a “lone gunman.”

But there is no lone gunman. Anyone who has a hand in allowing racism to thrive in any corner of our society, in our homes, our living rooms or taught to our children, has to acknowledge that it must end now. We don’t need any more wake up calls. We have awoken.

The lost lives of the nine men and women, moms, dads, sisters, uncles, grandparents, brothers, children, friends, teachers, and all that they were and meant, cannot simply be mourned… they must be a catalyst for change – and we must be that change.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth Day, the first celebration of the end of slavery. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that Texas can forbid people from putting the Confederate Flag on their state license plates, and yet, many Southern states still fly confederate flags. Our country still struggles to acknowledge that #BlackLivesMatter.

We believe that “no one is free until we are all free.” We’re still not free.