Thursday, January 12, 2017

Find yourself in the crowd at the Clemson-Alabama national title game

Whole Lotta Orange

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:21 AM

click image SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
Were you among the record crowd at Raymond James Stadium on Monday to witness Clemson's historic win over the Alabama Crimson Tide?

If you missed out, do you know someone who did make the trip?

Well, get your mousing fingers ready to zoom in and find yourself or your favorite Tiger fan in this crazy 360-degree 'gigapixel' image from midfield during the first quarter that captured pretty much everyone fortunate enough to snag a ticket to the game. (Unless they were making a beer run.)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Victims' families express anger and forgiveness as Dylann Roof is sentenced to death

'We can go out now and really begin to heal'

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 6:03 PM

Courtroom sketch artist's depiction of the emotional first day in court for Dylann Roof - ROBERT MANISCALCO
  • Robert Maniscalco
  • Courtroom sketch artist's depiction of the emotional first day in court for Dylann Roof
When it came time to argue why Dylann Roof should not be executed, no one raised their hand. The 22-year-old white supremacist waived his opportunity to speak on his own behalf during the lengthy hearing where he was formally sentenced to death, and anyone in the courtroom who may have known him remained quiet. But this silence was juxtaposed by the more than 30 friends and family members of Roof’s victims who stood to address the man who killed their loved ones inside Emanuel AME Church.

“On June 17, 2015, the temple, the house of God, was desecrated by what we now know to be a heinous act,” said Rev. Eric Manning, the current pastor at Mother Emanuel.

Explaining that he buckled when first asked to assume the role and responsibility of leading the church, Manning told the court that the resilience of Emanuel AME has been a beacon of hope and hate has not had the final word.

“What Satan may have meant for evil, God has meant for good,” Manning said. “I know we will not allow the enemy to steal our joy, our peace, and our hope.”

Manning was joined by the family members and friends of those who died inside Mother Emanuel to say that Roof’s efforts to spark a race war were in vain. One after the other, they stood before Roof at the front of the courtroom. Anger and sorrow mixed with faith in forgiveness as they spoke.

“What are you?” Marsha Spencer, a member of Mother Emanuel, asked Roof as he stared down, unwilling to look at anyone who chose to address him. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could create such evil?”

Citing Charles Manson and Hitler, Spencer then told Roof that his plan to incite a race war wasn’t original. She then told the convicted killer that the last image anyone wanted to see of him was Roof being led away in handcuffs to await his “gruesome destiny.”

Gayle Jackson, niece of shooting victim Susie Jackson, was among those who told Roof that he was destined for hell. Gracyn Doctor, daughter of DePayne Middleton-Doctor, called Roof Satan before offering a message of perseverance over hate.

“We can go out now and really begin to heal ... We are strong. We are black and beautiful, and we can do this,” she said.

Some took their opportunity to speak to thank the court and all those who participated in the trial for arriving at a swift and just sentence. Jurors who had decided Roof’s fate asked to return to the courtroom Wednesday to see his final sentence handed down. Shirrene Goss, sister of shooting victim Tywanza Sanders, told Roof that he deserved every bit of the sentence he received. Only one family member spoke against Roof’s execution.

“I still don’t want you to die,” said Rev. Sharon Risher, daughter of shooting victim Ethel Lance, who wished that Roof would instead spend the rest of his life in a prison cell, thinking about his actions.

“You made them martyrs. You made them the face of America,” Risher told Roof before explaining that the death of her sister has given her a platform to crusade for the victims.

Throughout it all, Roof kept his eyes down, registering no emotion. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied Roof’s request for new attorneys. Roof now has 14 days to appeal his sentence. With a pending state trial, he will remain confined at Al Cannon Detention Center for the foreseeable future.

Before Judge Gergel read Roof his sentence, he took the time to say that there are no winners in this trial. No verdict can return the lives lost in Mother Emanuel. But Gergel told the families and the community that he hopes they can feel some sense of justice after what has happened.

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Advocacy and action groups you can get involved with today

Getting Busy

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 11:17 AM

  • Tony Mingacci

Organizations that serve women and fight for progressive issues around Charleston have reported a higher than normal interest in their services and initiatives since the election. Many have held meetings, only to find them swamped with newcomers eager to connect with others and engage civically. The last Charleston Democratic Party business meeting had more people than they'd had in a long time according to chair Brady Quirk-Garvan. Here's a list of a few organizations that are already hard at work on advocacy and action.

Center for Women

This Charleston nonprofit has been dedicated to advancing women in this state since 1990. From eating disorder support groups to financial workshops, the range of issues that Center for Women addresses is as varied as women themselves. A new initiative for awareness and advocacy led by Ali Titus will educate people on civic engagement and train women for leadership positions.

Gathering For Good

This social movement is being organized by GM Whitley, Jessica Maginsky, Meghan Alexander Trezies, and Jessica Boylston-Fagonde. Their idea is simple. Grab your friends or a group of people, whether it's for your regular happy hour get together or a full-blown party, elevate the conversation to discuss an issue that you're passionate about, ask everyone to kick in some money to donate to an organization involved in that issue, and then take a picture and share on social media with the hashtag #gatheringforgood.

League of Women Voters

On November 29, a mere 20 days after the election, the Charleston chapter of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters hosted a meeting entitled "Sips and Civility." The goal was to move past the bitterness and take productive action on important issues. An over-capacity crowd showed up to the event, which was held at the round Holiday Inn. The League's mission is to make democracy work, and it does that by educating voters on candidates and issues, working on legislative priorities (like ethics reform), and fighting to ensure voters' rights. One issue discussed at the last meeting was helping women run for office locally by providing a support network. This is a great organization for learning the nuts and bolts of civic engagement. They also host the best candidate forums during the run up to elections.


The Women's Rights and Empowerment Network is a new entity that grew out of the S.C. Coalition for Healthy Families. Executive Director Ann Warner says, "WREN is really tapping into a need and desire women and men have in the state to connect and work actively and intentionally to increase opportunities for women in the state."

WREN released its policy agenda last week and will focus in the 2017 legislative session on the issues of equal pay, workplace accommodations for pregnant employees, high quality reproductive health education, and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Advocacy is a large component of WREN's mission and it is planning to hold advocacy workshops designed to teach civic engagement. WREN will host an event Monday, Jan. 30 from 9:30-11 a.m. on ways to take action. For more information, visit and search Charleston WREN.


LaVanda Brown, executive director, has seen an upswing in interest at the YWCA since the election in people wanting to get involved, wanting to protect the rights of women, and particularly working in the area of advocacy.

"We're developiong an advocacy agenda," she says. "After the election one of the things that we are really focused on is promoting and encouraging all voters, particularly women, not only to get involved during presidential elections but local elections. We want to mobilize the folks to register to vote and to get out and vote and to understand what local and state legislators positions are that are important."

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dylann Roof sentenced to death for killing nine in Charleston church

Jury returns unanimous decision

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 4:51 PM

  • Robert Maniscalco
Sentenced to death, Dylann Roof stared down blankly as U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel read the jury's verdict. The 22-year-old white supremacist kept his eyes on the desk in front of him, as he has through most of the trial, and slowly sorted through a stack of paper. As part of their decision that Roof deserved the death penalty, jurors were asked to consider his ability to change if sentenced to life in prison. The 12 jurors were unanimous in their belief that Roof could find redemption.

The final verdict came after just three hours of deliberation. Before jurors were given the chance to discuss Roof's fate, the man who killed nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church was given the opportunity to deliver a closing statement. He asked for no forgiveness, offered no apologies. Instead, he told the jury that he still felt he had to kill those people in the church that night.

Federal prosecutor Jay Richardson delivered his closing arguments earlier in the day. He reminded the jury that the death penalty is reserved as punishment for only a small set of murders. And then he called for Roof to pay for his crimes with his life.
"He understood the horrific nature of the crimes he had committed. He knew the consequences that would be coming," Richardson told the jury.

The prosecutor closed his statements by repeated calling on the jury to sentence Roof to death for those he murdered. Richardson punctuated each line with the names of the nine men and women killed by Roof. And after weeks of painful testimony from the families and loved ones of the victims, the jury heeded his call.

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Dylann Roof shows no remorse in closing statements in capital trial

'The ones who hate me have been misled'

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 1:42 PM

  • File
Dylann Roof stood before a jury and said that those who seek to execute him know nothing about real hatred. He offered no excuse or apology for the murders he committed inside of Emanuel AME. Instead he took his final opportunity to address the 12 jurors tasked with deciding his fate to stay true to their own opinions — and reminded them that only one voice of dissent is needed to save him from execution.

“I think it’s safe to say that no one in their right mind wants to go into a church and kill people,” Roof said as he read from a single sheet of paper that he had ripped from a legal pad.

Referring to his videotaped confession to FBI agents less than one day after he murdered nine parishioners at Bible study, Roof said that he didn’t tell agents that he hated black people. Instead he told authorities that he hated what they did, the perceived crimes that African Americans committed against the white race.

“Anyone who hates anything, in their mind they have a good reason,” Roof said. “The ones who hate me have been misled. Anyone who thinks I’m filled with hate has no idea what real hate is.”

Taking several long pauses as he read through his closing statements, Roof told the jury that each of them had sworn that they could remain true to their own opinions when it comes to sentencing him to death.

“And only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors,” Roof said before turning his head to U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel and concluding, “That’s all.”

But for the two hours before Roof addressed the court, assistant U.S. attorney Jay Richardson walked the jury through his crime, the planning that led up to his murderous act, and the lives that the 22-year-old white supremacist cut short. Roof entered Mother Emanuel with hate in his heart and a Glock, Richardson told the jury. A stranger to the 12 parishioners gathered for Bible study, Roof was welcomed in the church. He sat with his victims for 40 minutes before opening fire more than 75 times.

“You know the last moments this group of 12 spent together,” Richardson said, “but you also know how extraordinarily good these people were before the defendant chose to walk into the church that night.”

The prosecutor offered a window into the lives of Roof’s nine victims, the lives they touched, all that they overcame, and the potential that was stolen. Richardson detailed Roof’s lengthy preparation leading up to the shooting. Not only did he carefully select a target, but he also spent years crafting his racist ideology that would fuel the attack. Richardson argued that Roof chose Mother Emanuel due to its rich history and targeted individuals that he knew were not just infrequent worshippers, but pillars of the church and their community.

“He chose these great people. He went there hoping to find the best among us. And he did,” Richardson said.

In his writings, Roof justified his actions as necessary to inciting a race war. He expressed sorrow for his parents, whom he knew would be greatly affected by his crime. He felt pity for himself, knowing that he would never again enjoy a movie or drive a car. But as Richardson told the jury during his closing statements, Roof never showed any remorse for killing. Faced with the possibility of execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole, his fate now rests in the hands of 12 jurors.

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