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A Big—and Symbolic— Settlement in Church Shooting

Survivors, families of those killed by Dylann Roof will share $88M, a figure linked to white supremacy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2021 1:57 PM CDT
Church Massacre Settlement Is $88M, a Symbolic Figure
In this June 2015 file photo, police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, in Charleston, S.C.   (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

(Newser) – Survivors and the families of victims from a 2015 church massacre in South Carolina have won an $88 million settlement from the federal government—and the figure is no accident. As the AP explains, 88 is a figure linked to the white supremacy movement and is the number of bullets shooter Dylann Roof claimed to have brought with him to the church in Charleston. “We’ve given a big ‘F you’ to white supremacy and racism,” says attorney Bakari Sellers. “We’re doing that by building generational wealth in these Black communities, from one of the most horrific race crimes in the country.” Roof killed nine people and wounded five others.

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The families won the settlement from the Justice Department because Roof would not have been able to buy the gun he used had background checks been properly enforced, reports CNN. Roof, a white supremacist, had previously been arrested on a drug charge that should have prevented the purchase. However, the arrest never surfaced in federal databases, per the State, and Roof was able to buy the gun after returning to the store in three days.

The nine people slain ranged in age from 26 to 87, notes CNN. They are the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, and Tywanza Sanders. (Roof is awaiting execution as the first person sentenced to death for a federal hate crime.)

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