The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C. – More than 30 witnesses, all relatives of the nine people Dylann Roof shot down in the Emanuel AME Church during a Bible study in June 2015, registered to speak during the sentencing portion of his trial. Before the Judge ultimately sentenced Roof to death, the witnesses spoke directly to the self-avowed white supremacist for the first time.
Alana Simmons, granddaughter of shooting victim Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., reminded Roof of her message at his bail hearing that “hate won’t win.” She told him those words held true. Though he hoped to drive people apart, he instead brought people closer together, she said. He had failed in his mission to sow division through his twisted and bloody plan. “Instead of starting a race war, you started a love war,” said Melvin Graham, who lost his sister Cynthia Graham Hurd in the shooting.
“I forgive you for you actions. You are just a body being used. You didn’t understand the presence of the evil that possesses you,” added Daniel Simmons, Jr., son of Rev. Simmons. “But thank God that he gives us the opportunity for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the heartbeat that pulls us to another level.”
“Yes, I forgive you,” said another witness Felicia Sanders who lost her son Tywanza and her aunt Susie Jackson in the shooting. “That was the easiest thing I had to do. … But you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. May God have mercy on your soul.”
“You can’t have my joy,” said Bethane Middleton-Brown, whose sister died in the shooting. “It is simply not yours to take.”
“I forgive you, my family forgives you,” added Anthony Thompson, a relative of victim Myra Thompson. “But take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess.”
“Your choices brought us here, but our choice–to respond with love–has kept us here,” Alana Simmons said. “We are all moving on in love and moving on in strength and nothing you can ever do will ever be able to stop that.”
Read more about the South Carolina shooting and forgiveness for the shooter:
- Hatred Will Not Reign – The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., winner of the Pulitzer Prize
- They may not forgive Dylann Roof, but they don’t want him dead – CNN, U.S. Edition
- Links to more stories – This link will take you to a page that has summaries and hot links to 11 more stories.
- Previous posts on this website about the shootings – Charleston Church Victims’ Families Respond With Forgiveness and