Racial hatred cannot be tolerated, local leaders say

Charleston shooting is a reminder that racism remains an issue

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The fatal shooting of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, not only touched the families and friends of victims the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. and Myra Thompson, but also New Yorkers.

“I was devastated by the news of this shooting … of nine people who were gathered for a prayer meeting,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said in a prepared statement. “My profound condolences go out to the victims, their families, the community and our nation as we mourn this incredible loss.” Meeks district includes Inwood and North Woodmere.

A historically black church founded in 1816, Emanuel AME Church was assaulted within by 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who attended the Bible study group, and then about an hour later shouted racial epithets and opened fire with a .45 caliber gun that was a birthday present in April. Roof was arrested and charged in the murders.

As part of its Friday night Shabbat service, Temple Israel of Lawrence held an inter-religious service that included clergy and dignitaries of all faiths. “Words cannot adequately describe our sense of horror, outrage and pain we feel for the senseless, brutal and hateful act …” Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, spiritual leader of Temple Israel, said in a press release about the service. “Women and men of conscience from the diverse tapestry that is America must come to realize that what happens to one person of faith anywhere, affects all people of faith everywhere in our nation.”

Officials from the Glen Cove-based Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County said that they “stand shoulder to shoulder with the families of the victims and the community of Charleston.”

“HMTC is committed to standing up to intolerance and advocating respect for all people, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation,” officials said in a prepared statement. “The Holocaust has taught us the price of indifference and silence.”

Meeks said that this violence cannot be tolerated. “As a nation, we must take a stand against racial hatred,” he said. “Our nation must come together during this time of sorrow to stand in solidarity with the victims and their families.”