By Karen Stokes
Presently, it’s difficult to separate the issues of race, the Confederate flag and gun control from the senseless violence perpetrated by Dylann Roof 21, who has been charged with gunning down nine innocent church members during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
The murders that took place on June 17 catapulted a series of destruction.
Seven predominately Black churches in six days throughout the south became engulfed in flames: churches in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina burned to the ground.
There has been an ugly history of white supremacists destroying predominately Black churches starting in the early 1900’s and then in the mid-nineties when approximately 100 Black churches were burned down.
Black churches have long been the target of hate crimes.
The FBI confirmed that they are investigating the motive and cause.
They are working to discern whether the fires were hate crimes or arson.
This is a reminder that those who thought that racism was a thing of the past were mistaken,” said Darryl Williams, pastor of St. Mark’s AME Church. “Barack Obama’s election brought out people who hid their prejudice but have a great deal of resentment for an African- American president.
We all have the right to go where our ambition bring them no matter the race, color and creed.”
The debate on the appropriateness of the displaying the Confederate flag on a government building or displayed on cars and clothing is at the height of discussion in the media and on the social network.
Photos of Roof posing with the flag has ignited the debate.
In an interview with USA Today, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said, “While some consider the flag to be a symbol of Southern tradition and heritage, for many others it’s a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”
It is reported that Walmart and Sears have stopped selling Confederate flag related merchandise in light of the murders in South Carolina and TV Land has dropped the television show “Dukes of Hazzard” over the response to the controversy.
Other companies are considering to not use the flag in their merchandising.
Kristen Cunningham, corporate reputation and communication manager at Harley Davidson said in a statement, “For over 110 years, Harley-Davidson has welcomed people from all walks of life into our Harley-Davidson family.
Our values emphasize respect for diverse backgrounds and diverse point of views.
It has been our longstanding approach to prohibit the use of the Confederate flag by the company, its licensees or its dealers in connection with any Harley-Davidson trademark or logo, on any products signs or other materials.
We have on occasion made few, limited short term exceptions permitting its depiction, primarily in a historical context.
In light of recent events, we, like many other companies are closely evaluating the extent of the usage of the Confederate flag in conjunction with the Harley-Davidson brand and will take steps to address this accordingly.”
To add to the controversy on a local level, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation last week that eliminates the 48 hour waiting period to purchase a handgun. Many question the timing.
The bill was signed one week after the murders in South Carolina. In a press conference, Walker defended the timing stating that the bill was previously scheduled for June 11, several days before the shooting occurred.
Supporters of the law believe it allows citizens of Wisconsin to protect themselves, opponents believe it would allow an individual caught up in emotions of anger or depression to obtain a gun quickly, eliminating the time needed to calm down.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Walker has a 100 percent rating with the National Rifle Association. The law took effect June 26, 2015.
President Obama in a message said, “As we take the time to heal in the shadow of this most recent tragedy, more needs to be done to prevent gun violence.”