Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 06/18/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in
In cold blood – that`s how South Carolina state senator Reverend
Clementa Pinckney and eight others were murdered in the historic Mother
Emanuel Church in Charleston last night. And today, after an intense 14-
hour manhunt, police have arrested an identified suspect, Dylann Roof, in
Shelby, North Carolina, during a traffic stop. He was led away this
afternoon in a bulletproof vest. And he was apparently acted alone,
according to police.
Anyway, Roof is en route right now by airplane from North Carolina,
and we`re awaiting his arrival in Charleston.
A witness who spoke to Reverend Clementa`s cousin described in
chilling detail how the 21-year-old Roof walked into the church`s bible
study last night, sat among the members for nearly an hour, and then
transformed the place of worship into a nightmare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVIA JOHNSON, COUSIN OF PASTOR PINCKNEY: He asked for the pastor.
Where`s the pastor? They showed him where the pastor was. He sat next to
my cousin, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, for – throughout the entire bible
She said that he reloaded five different times. And her son was
trying to talk him out of doing the act of killing people, and he – he
just said, I have to do it. He said, You rape our women and you`re taking
over our country and you have to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, a man identifying himself as Roof`s uncle told a
HARDBALL producer late today in a phone interview that the alleged shooter,
Dylann Roof, has made their life a living hell. Quote, “We didn`t see this
coming. We had no clue. And I will say this. I hope he gets what`s
coming to him. They got his ass now. Not only has he destroyed nine
people`s lives and his own, he`s destroyed his own whole family. I hope he
gets what`s coming to him.” Well, that`s a relative.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley fought back tears today as she
spoke about the mass murders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We woke up today, and the heart
and soul of South Carolina was broken. And so we have some grieving to do.
And we`ve got some pain we have to go through. Parents are having to
explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe, and that`s
not something we ever thought we`d deal with.
Having said that, we are a strong and faithful state. We love our
state, we love our country, and most of importantly, we love each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: President Obama once again bore the burden as the nation`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any death of this sort
is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy.
There`s something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a
place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: While the president struck an emotional tone there in that
address, by one count, this is the 14th time he`s had to address the
country after a violent shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`ve had to make statements like this too many times.
Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many
times. We don`t have all the facts, but we do know that once again,
innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict
harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining us right now is NBC`s Craig Melvin. He`s in
Charleston right now. Craig, thanks so much for coming on tonight. You`ve
been covering this story. Give us a sense of perhaps what we can`t see or
haven`t heard yet on television of what it`s like down there, where it`s
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, Chris, when I got here
this morning shortly after the suspect was apprehended in Shelby, North
Carolina, you could almost sense this sort of palpable sigh of relief.
There had been a number of folks who`d gathered on the corner. We`re about
block away from Mother Emanuel, the church where the shooting happened last
But this is a community that has been dealing with a great deal lately
– as you know, the Walter Scott shooting just less than two months ago. I
mean, that`s not three, four miles from where we stand right now. So
Charleston has had a lot to deal with.
But it has been reassuring to see and hear from so many folks who
insist that this city is going to bounce back, like it always has, and the
church, as well. Church leaders are adamant, adamant that not only will
they bounce back, but they will be worshipping in that sanctuary on Sunday.
There`s a vigil that is set to take place here starting at 8:00
o`clock Eastern at a nearby church. We`re told that`s going to be an
interdenominational vigil. Folks are going to gather there. There`ll be
some words and some prayers, and then they are going to march to Mother
Emanuel and lay flowers down in front of the church in a show of solidarity
in this community, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You know – well, why don`t you react to what I`m thinking
from way up here. And I`m with Gene Robinson now, where he`ll be talking
in a minute. And I – it`s not like a policeman abusing his authority in a
violent way, in a racist way. It`s – the reaction to it doesn`t seem like
it`s the kind of thing would cause rioting or looting of anything like
It seems like a different kind of wound in our society, something that
comes out of us. Certainly, this suspect – I mean, the person who did it,
did it. We didn`t all do it. But there`s something almost like this comes
of us. It comes of – look at this kid. I mean, I don`t know how you can
get that angry at this kid. I mean, it`s, like, Who is this idiot? And
whose parents does he have? And what did he watch on television? And
where has he been getting this stuff from?
And yet we know this racism, this hatred and this – a bit of white
supremacy still around, I guess in the air somewhere. You know, he`s got
some apartheid-era emblems on him. He`s got something from Rhodesia on
You know, it`s just – I don`t know. It`s not like the regular crime.
It`s a horror with nine people dead, but it is a strange kind of wound in
our society that was there before this happened.
What do you make of it?
MELVIN: Chris, I`ll tell what you it feels like in a lot of ways. I
was at Newtown several years ago, and I remember being there in Connecticut
and talking to folks, and you just got the sense there that this was just
one of those things that – (INAUDIBLE) that are off-limits.
You know, I think we`ve probably become desensitized, unfortunately,
to a great deal. But this – this is not something that was fathomable to
a lot of folks. I mean – and here`s the thing. Not only – not only did
he, you know, shoot up the church, here`s a guy who, according to folks who
were inside the church, he sat with the parishioners for 45 minutes to an
hour, presumably praying with them, maybe reading the bible, doing who
knows what, sitting next to the pastor.
At the end of this prayer service on Wednesday night, that`s when he
stands up, he opens fire. And he has to reload five times. I mean, this
was clearly, clearly something that was planned, clearly something that was
Over the next few days and weeks, obviously, we will learn more about
the suspect. But we do know that he has a record. We know that there was
a drug charge earlier this year. We know that there was a trespassing
charge at a mall that`s about two hours from here, in Columbia. We know
that he started the 9th grade at a high school. He had to repeat the 9th
grade. We have not been able to verify whether he actually finished high
There had been some contact made with family members earlier today,
who perhaps understandably did not want to say anything. But you know,
you`re asking the questions that everyone here is asking, everyone all over
the country`s asking. Why? Why? What would motivate someone to be this
angry and this filled with hate and rage to walk into a church?
And three of the victims, three of the nine – we`re talking six
women, three men – three of the nine victims were over the age of 70.
There was an 87-year-old woman who was shot dead in the church. That`s
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Craig Melvin. I mean, you`re understanding as best
I can understand anything these days. Thank you so much for joining us
from the scene.
Mourners gathered today at a prayer vigil in Charleston, where South
Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn delivered a message of resilience. Here
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: This church, our church, is
built from the rock, and no messenger, no act will ever destroy the
foundation of this church.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman James Clyburn, I respect you so much for what
you`ve been through, and here this comes, you know, these older people
getting killed by this premeditated decision of someone to walk into –
getting the welcome of a church and taking that welcome and using it to
kill people, including the pastor.
MATTHEWS: Premeditated (INAUDIBLE) hatred.
CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me. You know, this
community has responded to this tragedy in a way that should make all of
Americans proud. Last night, we saw the police chief not hesitating to
call this crime what it was, and it is a hate crime, the mayor of the city
responding in a way that allowed an atmosphere to be created.
Today at the vigil at Morris Brown AME Church, all of the participants
conducted themselves in such a way as to say to this perpetrator and any of
his sympathizers that might be out there that we are not going to allow the
foundation upon which this country, this community and the church is built
to be rocked by this kind of behavior.
So I`m very proud of the way things are transgressing (sic), and I
would hope that everybody would see this as a galvanizing moment for all of
us to come together and find the good that can come out of this evil act.
There is some good that can come out of it, and I`m hopeful that this
community will move toward achieving that good.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Congressman James Clyburn of South
Before his death, Pastor Clementa Pinckney had described his church as
a beacon for America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY, MOTHER EMANUEL AME CHURCH: Many of us don`t
see ourselves as just a place where we come and worship, but as a beacon
and as a bearer of the culture and a bearer of what makes us a people. But
I like to say that this is not necessarily unique to us. It`s really what
America`s all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with
“The Washington post.” He grew up in South Carolina. Gene, thanks for
coming on. This is so close to you.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it
is. It`s – you know, I grew up in Orangeburg, but we had family in
Charleston. That`s where my mother`s side of the family is from. My
great, great-great-grandfather had a blacksmith`s shop, actually, that was
not very from where that church is. We used to go down there and…
MATTHEWS: Tell us about the historic place of that church and where
it fits into the…
MATTHEWS: If you go into Charleston, it`s, like, right there.
ROBINSON: Yes (INAUDIBLE) It`s a very prominent church with a big,
high steeple, founded in the 1816 by a group of free persons of color who
wanted a place to worship for them and also for – for enslaved African-
Americans to worship.
One of the founding members was Denmark Vesey, who organized what
would have been the biggest slave revolt in the country`s history, had it
gone off. It was discovered the day before. He was – he was capture, he
was executed, as were 34, 35 other people, and angry white mobs burned the
church down so – in retribution. It was rebuilt, but then a law was
passed outlawing black churches in South Carolina in 1834. So from…
MATTHEWS: How did that square with the 1st Amendment?
ROBINSON: Well, not very well. From 1834 and 1865, the congregation
had to worship in secret. It was a clandestine congregation that could
only resurface and rebuild in – I guess reoccupy the building they had
already built in 1865.
The original building, after the burning, came down in an earthquake
in I think the 1880s. That building dates to 1891. And it`s a magnificent
building, huge – huge, beautiful sanctuary with stained glass windows.
They were in the middle of a campaign – a fund-raising campaign to build
an elevator for the church…
ROBINSON: … because an obvious problem for older – older – older
parishioners just to get up into the sanctuary because it`s on a – on a…
MATTHEWS: Do you think this is, like, a purposeful location for a
crime like this, a mass murder?
ROBINSON: Oh, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Like – like going – remember the guy who shot his way
into the Holocaust Museum here in D.C.?
ROBINSON: Yes, no, that`s…
MATTHEWS: … for a purpose?
ROBINSON: He absolutely chose the highest-profile back church. He
chose the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who is a very prominent not just
clergyman but also a prominent political figure in Charleston, up-and-
coming political figure. He was making a statement. He was making a
And by the way, that name Pinckney – Pinckney – the name Pinckney
comes from a plantation owner who was a signer of the Declaration of
MATTHEWS: Sure, Charles.
ROBINSON: Charles Pinckney.
ROBINSON: And so that is…
MATTHEWS: That`s how slaves got their names, didn`t they?
ROBINSON: Exactly. And so that`s where the Pinckney name comes from.
So if Mr. Roof believes that they`re sort of taking his country away, I`m
willing to bet that the Pinckneys were here a lot longer than the Roofs.
MATTHEWS: One of the top directors here at MSNBC, at NBC in
Washington, said, You know, this is – why isn`t this being considered a
crime of terrorism? Because it`s not just – he was basically saying to
black Americans, Go away. I mean…
ROBINSON: Yes. Yes. Well, I – look, I would consider it a crime of
terrorism. I consider it just an abomination. And I think it is great
that Charleston is so resilient and it`s – and it`s inspiring and we
should look forward, but I`m not past the angry yet.
ROBINSON: And the angry – anger at – at him and those around him.
I mean, there`s more than a whiff of white supremacy…
ROBINSON: … in the air. It`s still a stench. It`s fainter than it
used to be, but it`s there. And somehow, he breathed it in. He – he –
he was in an environment in which, you know, this became meaningful to him.
And so how did that happen? And how did he get the gun? You know,
I`ve seen it reported that he was given the gun by a parent, a father
perhaps. Someone gave him a gun, knowing that he was a troubled kid. So
why`d he give him a gun? It – it – you know…
ROBINSON: And you know, you heard – you heard President Obama
speaking almost with resignation…
ROBINSON: … about guns. And so that`s what I wrote about for
tomorrow`s paper. I wrote about guns. That is what all these incidents
have in common. I don`t know how to stop hatred. I don`t know how to –
how to stop mental illness. But we do know how to restrict people`s
ability to get guns. We know how to do that, but we won`t.
MATTHEWS: And someone said…
ROBINSON: We don`t.
MATTHEWS: Someone was saying today on I think one of the networks
that people should have guns in church so they could defend themselves.
ROBINSON: Yes. Right. Yes.
MATTHEWS: What are you going to, holster up, put your gun on to go to
church? That`s a little odd.
Anyway, I do like – I do think you got something on the atmospherics.
MATTHEWS: And it`s not all one person acting alone. It`s always
ROBINSON: Oh, it`s always…
MATTHEWS: … gets moral license to certain kind of behavior.
MATTHEWS: I thought when Kennedy was killed down in Dallas that time
ROBINSON: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: … I thought it was an atmosphere there…
MATTHEWS: … even though he was a man on the left, and that was on
the right. It was atmospheric.
Anyway, Eugene Robinson is going to stay with us. Appreciate him
Coming up, more about the shooting suspect, who he is, why he did it,
what`s he going to face when he faces justice? And where did he get his
ideas about African-Americans, and raping and all this stuff that took him
to that church last night?
When we come back, we`ll talk about motives and what`s likely to
happen to this guy, Dylann Roof, if he`s convicted.
Our coverage of the massacre in Charleston continues after this.
MATTHEWS: The suspected shooter in the Charleston church massacre
will appear at a bond hearing tomorrow. Dylann Roof will appear by closed-
circuit TV at 2:00 PM Eastern tomorrow.
We`re coming right back with new details on the suspect in the
shooting last night in South Carolina, who he was, what he is, what made
him do what he did and what`s going to happen to him if he`s convicted.
Our coverage continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH RILEY, MAYOR OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an
unfathomable and an unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a
In Charleston, that you have a horrible, hateful person going into a
church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is
something that is beyond incomprehensible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the mayor of Charleston just said, the actions of Dylann Roof, the
ones he`s accused of, are beyond comprehension. Was he crazy? Is he crazy
or just very angry, deranged? What is it? And where did he get his ideas
about African-Americans, and why did he sit in that church with his victims
for a full hour, reportedly seeming to pray with them, before gunning them
all down? And he killed every person he shot, apparently.
Perhaps most relevant now, what will happen to him? Is he going to
get the death penalty facing him?
For more, I`m joined by Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice
at California State University, San Bernardino, and Miller Shealy. He`s a
former South Carolina state prosecutor who focused on death penalty cases.
Let me talk to Mr. Shealy first.
I was looking at the aggravating factors, like multiple murders,
kidnapping. How many of them do apply here, sir, if the guy is convicted?
MILLER SHEALY, CHARLESTON SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, there are several that
might – there are several that might apply.
One is, there`s possible kidnapping, depending on how the facts
develop and what he told people inside the church. Probably, the best one
that is the most applicable is the fact that he killed a number of people,
nine people. Multiple murders like this in this situation, that`s the main
one going forward.
MATTHEWS: What is the prevalence of the use of the death penalty down
there in your state?
SHEALY: South Carolina uses the death penalty, I would say, quite
frequently among death penalty states. Our last execution was about a year
or two ago, which is not terribly unusual, but the state, the population
tends to support the death penalty, prosecutors tend to be for it.
And I think it`s very likely that you will see a death penalty in this
case, a death penalty prosecution anyway.
MATTHEWS: And you have the chair and you have lethal injection,
SHEALY: That`s correct, yes.
MATTHEWS: And who makes that call, a jury?
SHEALY: Well, lethal injection. I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Who – it`s only lethal injection? Is that it now? I
thought it was both.
SHEALY: Well, the way it works here – the way it works here on the
execution is that the jury will have to – the jury and the jury alone will
have to make the decision whether life or death is appropriate after
hearing all the evidence.
So the jury will actually make the decision, if it comes to that, if
they convict him, and I can`t imagine they won`t. But when they – if they
do, they, the jury, will make the decision, not the judge.
A photo of Dylann Roof from his Facebook page shows the young man
posing with two distinct patches on his jacket. One is the flag of the
apartheid era South Africa and the other is the flag of the former
Rhodesia, which was also a white supremacist society, so a little politics
Brian Levin, this case, how do you look at it right now? They have
got the guy. He`s in custody. They have got the suspect.
BRIAN LEVIN, THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: You
know, before I answer that, I just remember what Bobby Kennedy said – and
you`re – you idolize him, too – where he wrote about violence and
lawlessness and racial division.
He said: “Let`s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many
years ago, to tame the savages of man and make gentle the life of this
world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that.”
And that`s something that it just – it just hit me, just interview
after interview today on this. When is it going to stop?
With regard to your question, though – and thank you for letting me
just entertain that – he not only can face the death penalty under South
Carolina law. There are at least two federal statutes that he can face the
death penalty for. One is the 18 United States Code 247, which deals with
But within that, if you kill someone while they`re exercising their
religious belief, you can get the death penalty under federal law. Also
under Shepard-Byrd Hate Crime Act, which was enacted in 2009 and became
operable in 2010, for intentionally selecting his victims on the basis of
race, he can get the death penalty for that.
So he`s in – he`s in deep trouble. The only thing that I could think
could possibly save this miscreant would be an establishment of legal
insanity. But I think there`s going to be a tough time for that, because
he premeditated with these folks, he planned, he was there for an hour, and
it seems to me that he at least evidenced consciousness of knowing right
from wrong and knew the consequences of what he was doing.
So, we`re talking about what we see…
MATTHEWS: Let me…
LEVIN: I`m sorry. You go, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I want to go back – I want to go to Miller Shealy.
How do you respond to all that? Do you think that it is likely that
the federal authorities will claim him as a defendant, rather than allow
the state authorities to take up a murder case against him?
SHEALY: It`s hard to say right now. But if I had to bet, having been
an assistant United States attorney and having been a prosecutor at the
state level, I think the state is going to get the first crack at it. And
that`s what they should do.
The state far more experience at this here. They do it. Cases are
upheld. We do carry out executions. And this did happen in downtown
Charleston. It falls classically within state law, although I agree with
our other guest. There is a federal angle here, but clearly he`s very much
in the clutches of state law right now. There`s just no question about it.
The aggravating circumstances are clear.
SHEALY: I also think it`s correct that it looks like going forward,
this is going to be a mental state case, this is going to be about
psychiatry and psychiatrists.
It`s going to turn on his mental state. He may not be insane, but the
Supreme Court of the United States has bent over backwards – and properly
so, I think, in general – to allow people who are subject to the death
penalty to present every aspect of their life, every aspect of their mental
state, even going back to childhood. So, we know who did this.
The answer to the question is why he did it. And the answer to the
question why, does it involve some kind of mental disease, some kind of
disturbance, some kind of organic brain disorder? My guest is, that`s the
only way the defense has to go here.
MATTHEWS: OK, Brian Levin, thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Oh, Brian – go ahead, Brian. You have a thought on that.
But, look, the Unabomber – we have the Aurora shooter at the movie
theater. Insanity is a very difficult threshold to reach. And neither the
SHEALY: It`s not about insanity. It not about insanity. It not
about insanity in a death penalty case.
LEVIN: No, I understand that.
LEVIN: I understand that.
What they also allow are mitigating circumstances. Having been
involved with death penalty cases involving extremists, for instance, I can
tell you that it`s going to be tough, but it`s not – it`s not impassable.
But, that being said, look, these guys generally are an amalgam of
chaotic experiences, failures, frustrations and motives. And what we often
find is some kind of angle – I don`t want sympathetic story, but some
angle on this.
Juries, I don`t think, in a case as horrific as this – this is the
worst racial mass murder that we have seen in many years.
LEVIN: And the one other thing I want to add, we saw something in
Mississippi with a racial homicide where the feds came in and prosecuted
even after there was a successful prosecution on the state side.
There`s no double jeopardy prohibition in the United States against
both a state trial and a federal trial, even if there`s a conviction or
acquittal on the state side.
Brian Levin, thank you very much.
Miller Shealy, thank you very much.
SHEALY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Shooting suspect Dylann Roof has arrived back in South
Carolina. He`s now at the Cannon Detention Center in Charleston.
Do you have a thought on that?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Just one thought.
If I had a vote, I would argue for – even if the state does the first
prosecution, I would argue for a federal prosecution, because I would argue
that this was a crime against the nation. It was a crime against us and a
crime against our values, a crime against our pluralism, all that this
nation stands for. And it should be prosecuted by the federal going to.
MATTHEWS: Maybe they should do both.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, it`s not like robbing a gas station, although that
could be just as horrible in its reality.
MATTHEWS: It can be. But I do think you have a major point there.
We will be right back with more from Charleston in just a minute.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I`m Milissa
We have some updates we want to share with you about announcements the
NBC News Group has made before.
Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, has announced that Lester
Holt will be named the permanent anchor of “The NBC Nightly News.” Holt,
who has been a television news reporter for 34 years, joined NBC in 2000
and became the full-time anchor of “Weekend Nightly News” in 2007. He also
anchors “Dateline” and co-anchors “Weekend Today.”
Brian Williams, who in February was suspended from NBC News, will join
MSNBC as anchor of special reports and breaking news beginning in mid-
August. He will also serve as breaking news anchor for NBC News live
special reports when Holt is not available. Williams was an anchor at
MSNBC from 1996 to 2004 – now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re covering these mass killings down in Charleston last
night. We`re back with more now on the breaking news we have been covering
on those killing.s
I`m joined right now by Charleston – from Charleston by Jennifer
Berry Hawes, who is a reporter with “The Post and Courier” newspaper.
Jennifer, thank you for joining us.
You`re reporting for tomorrow. Is there something we`re going to
learn more in the next 24 hours that is developing here, the motivation
here, perhaps the background, the atmospherics to get into this kid`s, this
JENNIFER BERRY HAWES, “THE POST AND COURIER”: Yes. I think we will
be hearing more and more about what kind person he was.
We will be certainly learning a lot more about his background and
other runs-in with the law he might have had. I think we will also be
hearing a lot more about the victims. I know here in Charleston that`s
something we have all been waiting for all day and we have hunting down on
Who were these people? They obviously were all part of a Bible study
at the church. We want to know a little bit more about who they were and
what their backgrounds were and what exactly happened inside the church, of
As I understand it, there was a business meeting that had been
conducted earlier in the evening, and then most of the people had left.
And so this Bible study remained, 12 people, nine of whom are dead now.
And we will be looking of course to find out more about what happened in
the basement of the church.
MATTHEWS: This was done so particularly that all the shooting victims
are dead. No one is – isn`t that true that there were – Jennifer, there
were no wounded survivors, which is an extraordinary situation in this kind
of a criminal affair, isn`t it? I mean, he killed everybody he shot at.
BERRY HAWES: Right. That`s our understanding as well.
And I spoke to a woman who in turn had spoken to the trustee, who the
gunman had told, I`m going to let you live so that you can share the story
of what happened in here.
And that woman reported that the two other survivors had played dead.
So, it sounds like they were not shot themselves, but rather escaped
because they had the wherewithal to pretend they`d already been shot.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question about the mood down there in the
black community in North Charleston and all over that area.
Nobody talks about – like they do when there`s a police abuse
situation, a killing – there`s no talk of social unrest, of getting angry
at society, getting angry at the establishment, at authorities. It`s all -
- it`s different. It seems from here to be different.
How would you describe the response by the community?
BERRY HAWES: Yes, I agree.
I think that the community in something like this is much more knit
together. I think the outpouring is more consistent across all walks of
life, all socioeconomic, all denominations.
In Charleston, we have seen just a huge outpouring from all kinds of
churches, from all kinds of people. So, I think it`s actually something
more that brings the community together, despite those differences, unlike
– and you`re referring to the North Charleston, the Walter Scott shooting
just recently, which obviously created more of a divide.
But I would say, even in terms of police shootings, I think that one,
because of the video that came out, allowed the community to have a much
more unanimous response, at least in terms of seeing the – the horrors of
shooting a man in the back as he`s running away.
So, I think that in fact, in some ways, both have provided a somewhat
unanimous spot. But this tragedy, there`s – I think there`s a consistent
feeling that this was one person who committed an evil act, and not some
sort of societal-wide commentary.
MATTHEWS: I was really taken with your Governor Nikki Haley`s emotion
on that. And you don`t fake that. That was real. That was a person`s
reaction to a wound to a society.
Anyway, I like to see that nonpolitical reaction sometimes from
Anyway, Jennifer Berry Hawes, congratulations. I mean, I shouldn`t
say that. I`m impressed with every print reporter I meet these days. So,
we`re a dying breed out there.
Anyway, thank you so much for continuing to write the news.
BERRY HAWES: I hear you.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much.
BERRY HAWES: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the significance of the Emanuel – actually, the
Mother Emanuel AME Church to the African-American community down there in
This is a church which played a key role from pre-Civil War days in
the South down there, antebellum days, all the way through the era of civil
war most dramatically.
Our coverage of the massacre, the horrible massacre in Charleston,
continues after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to our coverage of the massacre down in
Charleston last night.
As the president said, President Obama in his remarks today, the
Emanuel AME Church has a long history when it comes to civil rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a place of
worship that was founded by African-Americans seeking liberty. This is a
church that was burned to the ground because its worshippers worked to end
slavery. When there were laws banning all black church gatherings, they
conducted services in secret. When there was a non-violent movement to
bring our country in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest
leaders and led marches from this church`s steps. This is a sacred place
in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The Emanuel AME Church is the oldest of its kind in the
South. Its congregation dating back two centuries. In 1822, one of the
church`s founders, Denmark Vesey, was caught trying to organize a slave
rebellion, he and 34 others were executed for that, and the church was burn
to the ground. Vesey struggled and inspired activists like Frederick
Douglass and Harriett Tubman.
And last year, the city of Charleston unveiled a monument to this
man`s honor. Anyway, the Emanuel, it was called the Mother of Emanuel AME
Church, continued to play a role in the civil rights movement to the 20th
century, hosting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak there in 1962.
In light of last night`s tragedy, we`re again reminded how the church
and like many others like it are a quiet symbol of this country`s long
struggle on the race issue.
I`m joined right now by South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson,
and Pastor Howard John Wesley of the Alfred Street Baptist Church, across
the river here in Alexandria, Virginia.
Senator, thank you for joining us.
And give us a sense of the historic importance and it means to people
when they heard this morning that it was at that church with this mass set
of executions was carried out.
STATE SEN. MARLON KIMPSON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the fact that we
had a shooting in a church, Americans woke up in great disbelief. There`s
a real sense of hopelessness, a real sense of mourning. But ironically,
there`s also a sense of encouragement. Today at the prayer vigil, there
were people of all gender, all races, all ages, all committed to make race
relations and concentrate on the things that divide us a priority in the
state of South Carolina.
MATTHEWS: So, you`re – it isn`t like one of these police situations,
KIMPSON: Well, no, because I can tell you I travel from Columbia, the
state capital, where I was in the general assembly yesterday during
session, last night I went to the command center when I arrived in
Charleston, and law enforcement agencies from across the state, there`s
FBI, there was the city of Charleston, the county, North Charleston, the
county council and a large number of law enforcement agencies and elected
officials across partisanship lines all at the command center trying to man
the tip lines and get information.
And, obviously, you know the criminal has been apprehended, but the
whole city of Charleston was focused on that last night and we came
together and I`m just thankful to God that we caught him.
MATTHEWS: Pastor Wesley, tell me – you`re a pastor so you know all
about this. This is part of your world and also part of the history of
this country, where black people could go, sanctuary, it`s called a womb,
sometimes it`s a place you get away from the law, get away from white
people who were hostile in some cases.
REV. HOWARD-JOHN WESLEY, ALFRED STREET BAPTIST CHURCH PASTOR: Yes,
the black church has always played a very critical, not only in race
relations, but particularly for people of course. The church berth
businesses, schools, newspapers, banks, all of those came out of the black
church and it`s always been a critical place for us to proceed with race
relations in America.
MATTHEWS: So, what happens when this kid – he`s sort of a kid, he`s
21, he`s legal, he`ll probably adult justice – goes into the church on
purpose where you have a famous minister there.
MATTHEWS: – an historic spot, and uses that to do his statement, his
WESLEY: Yes, it always back fires. The same way it did with the
bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama when four little girls
are killed. It`s a mean, horrific and evil act, but it does galvanize
people in their faith, and I think ultimately it helps us to recognize
where we`re hurt and find that place of healing.
So, our prayer, as the senator said, that this will be a moment where
America seize, and we still have issues to deal with, and the church does
become a safe zone and a place of healing.
MATTHEWS: I expect this Sunday would be the ceremony.
WESLEY: Definitely. We`re going to have to address it, especially
being Father`s Day. And there are people having the security on their
mind, you know, internally, my own administrative team is thinking about
what do we – what do we do to protect our own –
MATTHEWS: Do you want cops at your gate, your door?
WESLEY: No, definitely not. That`s not the image we want to send.
WESLEY: But we do have to ask that question and secure the resources,
the most valuable, which are parishioners who come believing that in
church, they`re in a safe place.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Senator Marlon Kimpson, thank you –
I`m sorry, Pastor Howard, thank you, Pastor John Howard Wesley, sir, thank
you for coming here. Appropriate name, by the way, Wesley, what a great
name for a Methodist.
When we return, we`re going to talk to two state legislators and
friends of Pastor Pinckney, the leader of Mother Emanuel Church down there,
he was killed last night by the killer.
Our coverage continues after this.
MATTHEWS: Just moments ago, we received these pictures showing
suspected church shooter Dylann Roof arriving at the Charleston County
detention center. The official at the detention center confirms Roof`s
arrival but could not confirm that Roof will be placed in an isolation cell
overnight. Not yet. His bond, by the way, hearing is set for tomorrow
afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
And we`re joined right now from Charleston by former State
Representative Bakari Sellers. He was friends and colleague with the
Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor at Mother Emanuel Church.
We haven`t had any chance, Mr. Sellers, to talk about the chief –
well, the most well-known victim, that`s the reverend, Mr. Pinckney. Tell
us about him and his role. He was certainly an impressive speaker. That`s
all I could tell by watching the clips today.
BAKARI SELLERS (D), FMR. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REP.: Well, thank you
for having me, first and foremost. But Senator Pinckney was a man who
lived by his faith. Senator Pinckney was a man who had a baritone voice.
It was so deep and eloquent. I oftentimes say that his voice was so deep
because he was speaking for so many of the unheard. All I can think about
today to be completely honest with you are his two daughters that on Sunday
will not be able to fix their father breakfast in bed on Father`s Day.
This is a tragedy. This is one of God`s strongest warriors that he`s
taken back home and for me to know him personally and serve with him, our
state has had a great loss.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the mood down there, trying to capture
it from up here. We`ve got reporters down there. But I always like to
know what doesn`t show on TV and ask that question. What`s not showing
about this down there that`s not getting across in words, as you know it?
SELLERS: Well, the first thing is this is not an isolated incident.
We`ll call this what it is, this is domestic terrorism. This is racism at
its worst. But even more importantly, this is a community that`s been
hurting. This is a state that`s been hurting. And we have to come
together to move forward.
Mr. Matthews, we have nine people to bury. We`re grieving for nine
different families. You want to know what angers us the most is that
today, the state flag is flying at half-staff. Today, the United States of
America flag is flying at half-staff. But today, the Confederate flag
still flies as high as it did whether it was placed in front of the capitol
and I believe that speaks for itself.
MATTHEWS: Is that still an antagonistic symbol to you?
SELLERS: For me, it is. I mean I think about the nine people who
died yesterday. I think about Henry Smith and Samuel Hammond and Delano
Middleton who died in the Orangeburg massacre February 8, 1968. I think
about Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. I think about Jimmy Lee Jackson and
those heroes and sheroes upon whose shoulders I stand today.
And I think about the fact that I`m 30 years old and have seen so much
bloodshed, and I`m so weary and so tired. I want people to come together
and that flag represents the complete antithesis to bringing this state and
this country together.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think the whites still want that flag?
SELLERS: Well, I think that was a false general statement you just
made. It`s not that whites want this flag. I think that there are a few
people in this state that hold steadfast to it.
There`s no doubt that it`s a part of history but that history, like
most, belongs in a museum and not flying and being disrespect in the face
of many who fought to achieve equality and justice and peace.
I stood with a very strong gentleman, Vincent Shaheen, as I ran for
lieutenant governor and he ran for government, and about eight months ago
in front of that flag asking for it to come down. And there is a whole new
generation of blacks and whites, there`s a whole new generation of
Democrats and Republicans who believe that flag should come down.
And I`m going to get every ounce of my being to move our state forward
and I`m going to give every ounce of my being to take that flag down.
MATTHEWS: Get yourself a majority and you pull it off. Thank you so
much, former Representative Bakari Sellers.
SELLERS: Keep us in your prayers, please. Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Of course. We`ll be right back after this, sir.
MATTHEWS: We just got the booking photo of shooting suspect Dylann
Roof. There it is.
Much more next on “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES”.
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