Hundreds protest, hold vigil in Charleston after racist church massacre

Demonstrators in the "March for Black Lives" march through the streets after passing the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 20, 2015 three days after a mass shooting left people nine dead during a bible study at the church. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Charleston on Saturday to protest against racism and “white terrorism.” The march was held after a vigil for nine black people killed in Wednesday’s church shooting by a 21-year-old white supremacist.

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Protesters chanted “Black lives matter” and “We can’t take it no more.” At the end of the event, the demonstrators hung banners with the names of those killed on the Daughters of the Confederacy building.

They also held signs that read, “Still We Rise” and “Stop White Terrorism”.

Reverend Waltrina Middleton, a cousin of the slain Reverend Middleton-Doctor, was among the protesters.

“My ancestors were trotted through this market, their bodies on the ground of this Meeting Street, this marketplace. To know the trail of blood flows from here, it flows straight to Mother Emmanuel, it breaks my heart,” she said, as quoted by AP.

People take part in "Black Lives Matter" march around Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Congregation member Harold Washington spoke about how the massacre site was treated.

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“They did a good job cleaning it up. There were a few bullet holes around, but ... they cut them out so you don’t see the actual holes,” he said.

Also, he expects the first post-shooting service at the church to be very emotional: “I think it’s gonna be a touching moment – a lot of crying, hugging.”

A huge crowd, reportedly nearly a mile in length during the march, later rallied against the presence of the Confederate flag – viewed by some as symbol of white supremacy and slavery – on the premises of the South Carolina Statehouse.

People sing hymns outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

The event was peaceful, and comes just a few days after nine people were shot dead at an iconic African American church in Charleston by 21-year-old Dylann Roof. The self-described white-supremacist spent an hour sitting in on a Bible study session before opening fire on worshippers.

Roof has been arrested and charged with nine counts of murder, and possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.