I made the point because once upon a time you wouldnt get charged with murdering a black person . It is important because now we are all equal under law . To distinguish that murder victims were black will to some diminish and to others enhance the murder aspect .
And the state charges in this case aren't the murders of 9 black people, they are simply the murders of 9 individuals.
But, while people are all equal under the law, all crimes are not equal, all murders are not necessarily regarded equally. Some classes of murder victims--like police or correction officers--allow for harsher penalties than when ordinary civilians are murdered. The same is true when the motive for the crime is hatred or animus toward a particular group on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation--these hate crimes carry harsher penalties to provide a stronger deterrent to their commission, and to afford better protection for vulnerable groups.
It isn't just that the 9 people murdered were black, it's also that they were murdered by an admitted Southern white supremacist who wanted them dead because they were black--the motive was rather exclusively related to racial animus--this massacre couldn't be a clearer hate crime. Those are important facts in this case--particularly in light of this country's past history of slavery, segregation, and terrorist oppression of blacks by white supremacist groups like the KKK., and by continuing racial conflicts and tensions, and evidence of continuing discrimination.
If I was the reporter I would have written charged with the murder of 9 people who were black attendees at a bible study group at the oldest black church in the USA . Unfortunately reporting is all about cramming as much as possible into the smallest space, and facts are a secondary consideration .
If you were a reporter and had written it that way, you would have omitted the major racial dimension and motive in this case--the reason those 9 people were killed, why they are dead. The killer has admitted his acts and his racially biased motives, and those are the facts in this case--why would you, as a reporter, want to pretend otherwise by omitting that information? This isn't a whodunit--we know who did it and why--he not only confessed to authorities, and left behind a racist manifesto Web site, he also voiced his racist motives to a surviving witness during his murderous shooting spree.
In this particular case, a federal hate crime conviction, which seems likely in this case, would be mainly symbolic because the punishments on the state level really can't be enhanced--not with 9 murder counts. He faces either the death penalty or life in prison without parole--you can't inflict any harsher punishment on him, he will spend the rest of his life in prison, he will die in prison, either of natural causes or an execution, with or without the addition of federal hate crime charges. Personally, I hope this murderer will enter guilty pleas, in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, to spare his victim's families and their community the ordeal of a trial, and to deprive him of any further notoriety and attention.
But I do believe that we've finally begun a meaningful and important discussion regarding race relations in this country--one that seems more honest and open than we've had in a while. I don't want to see that diminished or watered down. Those 9 people didn't die simply because they were attending a bible study group in a historically significant black church--they were cold-bloodedly murdered by a white supremacist who came into their spiritual space to unleash a blood bath to show that black lives don't matter, that they deserve to be taken and cut down, even in the most sacred of places. We should unflinchingly face the racist reality of what has occurred, and not try to downplay why these individuals died, if we really want to heal the racial divisions and wounds that continue to fester in this country as a result of an ugly racial past that isn't entirely behind us.