When something horrible happens, New York mourns as if it happened in our own backyard
- Charleston/New York 06/22/2015 by Linda Perry (WBAI News)

Parishioners prays at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C
Church bells rang out in unison in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, in memory of the nine people killed Wednesday evening at a bible study group at the historic Black church, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

On Sunday, the church reopened for the first worship service since the massacre by a White gunman. 

“We can look through the windows of our faith and we see hope and we see light.” 

Church leader the Reverend John H. Gillison led the service, speaking of the deaths of the nine. 

“There they were in the house of the lord, studying your word, praying with one another. But the devil also entered, and the devil was trying to take charge. But thanks be to God, hallelujah, that the devil cannot take control of your people… and the devil cannot take control of your church.”

On Friday, relatives of the nine murdered people confronted the 21-year-old accused of the killings. They described their pain and their anger, but they also offered forgiveness. Charleston's Mayor said people in his town are telling him they can't stop crying about the church shootings. He said, "My heart is broken by the actions of an evil man with his bigoted mind." He is calling for actions on guns and race relations.

“Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton, Reverend Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson.”

When something horrible happens, New York mourns as if it happened in our own backyard. Vigils and memorials were held throughout the city over the weekend in the Bronx, in Harlem, and in Brooklyn. 

In Queens, at St. Albans Congregational Church, New York City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke of the scourge of gun violence, racism, and bigotry that plagues our nation.

“These acts happen far too often in our country, and in our communities. Charleston joins a list that includes the likes of Columbine, Jonesboro, Killeen, Birmingham and Newtown. Some say they don’t know where this kind of hate comes from. That’s also a lie. You just need to look towards the state capital in South Carolina, where a Confederate flag still flies.”

Mark-Viverito said that that flag, which symbolizes slavery, oppression, and hate, needs to come down once and for all. Period.

Last night, Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, organized a vigil outside the Barclays Center, in solidarity with the people of Charleston. He said that they were there with us during 9/11, and we stand with them now.

And in Charleston, Sunday night, tens of thousands marched hand-in-hand across the main bridge in a show of unity. As they were getting ready to march across the bridge, National Black Lives Matter organizer, Jay Johnson, stripped off his Black Lives Matter sweatshirt and said, “All lives matter.”

“And wherever you are, wherever you’re hiding—whether it be behind a keyboard or a cell phone or some dark cave somewhere—spewing your hatred, trying to keep us divided, we are the United States of America—one country, indivisible, unto God.”

More rallies, vigils, and actions continue across the country, in solidarity with Charleston. Rally organizers say the murder of the nine in the church was not just the act of a lone gunman with mental issues enabled by a lack of gun control laws. They say it was an act of terror—white supremacy at work.

There will be a vigil and rally at 6pm this evening, at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Plaza in Harlem: 125 St. and 7th Ave.