Two Trials of Racist Murderers Begin:
Eyes of the World on Charleston, South Carolina

November 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


April 4, 2015, North Charleston, South Carolina: Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black man, chased down, shot repeatedly in the back, and murdered by North Charleston cop Michael Slager. Walter Scott’s cold-blooded murder was captured on video by the lone witness to this event, and has been seen by millions.

June 17, 2015, Charleston, South Carolina: nine people at a Bible study class in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church murdered by white racist Dylann Roof when he sprayed a room full of people with a 45-caliber semi-automatic gun. Outpourings of grief, anger, and determination to put an end to the long, ugly history of racist murders spread across the country.

A System Steeped in Oppression

On October 31, Slager’s murder trial began in a Charleston courthouse. A week later, on November 7, Roof’s trial is set to begin in a federal courthouse across the street.

The eyes of the world are once again on Charleston. News media from across the country and around the world have gone to the city. Elected officials and religious leaders have begun pleading for “peace.” Judicial, legal, and police forces are being mobilized to enforce what this system calls “justice” and “order.”

Mayor John Tecklenburg said the trials are “truly an opportunity for the city of Charleston to continue—not start, but continue—to show the world a community that’s united in the belief that love conquers hate. A belief in our justice system that it can work, a belief in our community that we will come together and stay together no matter what challenge is before us.”

Police chase down Walter Scott and murder him.
Police chase and execution of Walter Scott.

This is sheer, brazen bullshit.

Slager is on trial because Feidin Santana, a courageous immigrant who was the only witness to the murder, took a video of Slager running after Walter Scott and shooting the unarmed man multiple times in the back, and let the world see what happened. Without this video, Slager’s lies that he was in a fight for his life would never have been exposed and challenged. He would have been like the hundreds and thousands of other cops who murder Black and Latino people in this country and never are even charged, much less convicted of anything. As a reporter for the Charleston Chronicle, the city’s Black newspaper, said, “In my 40-year police reporting career, this is first time any police officer has been brought to task for an unarmed shooting.”

The acts of Dylann Roof—the Nazi loving, Confederate flag waving, virulently white supremacist, mass murdering Dylann Roof—are not “inexplicable,” as the former mayor of Charleston claimed. He and others filled with the same violent, festering racist hate are not just “loosely connected to the history of race in this country,” as New York Times columnist David Brooks said on PBS News Hour.

He is an expression and product of a country founded on genocide, slavery, and theft. The horrific oppression begun centuries ago with those monstrous crimes continues and deepens today, though under different forms. Few places concentrate the legacy and ongoing continuation of the oppression of Black people seared into this country more than Charleston and South Carolina.

Charleston was a pillar of the “slave trade”—scholars estimate that 40 to 60 per cent of enslaved Africans entered the U.S. through Charleston and other “low country” South Carolina ports. The U.S. Civil War began when Confederates fired on a fort in Charleston’s port. Just months after the Civil War ended, South Carolina enacted “black codes” that became the model for the brutal, lynch mob apartheid of Jim Crow. The Confederate flag, known to the world as a symbol of white supremacy, flew over all government buildings in the state until massive outpourings after the Emanuel A.M.E. massacre demanded they be taken down. For over 50 years, Black people have been driven out of the city where they once formed a majority, in the 1960s and again in the 1990s by what the Charleston Post and Courier called “forced relocations.” Today gentrification and rising prices aimed at making the city “safe” for the tourists who want to soak up the “charm” of its slave-holding, antebellum (before the Civil war) atmosphere have changed the city from majority Black to majority white.

Michael Slager, the murdering cop, is a modern-day embodiment of the slave catchers who hunted down Black people—getting paid for enforcing brutal subjugation, backed up by law and custom for doing so. Dylann Roof is a fitting heir to the Southern (and American) tradition of the murderous lynch mobs that terrorized Black communities.

Ten people in Charleston are dead because of a marauding racist killer and a cop who thought he could kill Black people with impunity. Representatives and defenders of this system feel under intense pressure to provide a semblance of a “fair trial” in both these cases.

It is vital to wage a determined, relentless fight for justice in these trials. The wanton slaughter of Black, Latino, and Native American people, long protected and covered by U.S. law in U.S. courts, both state and federal, must stop! But whatever the outcome of these cases, there can never be an end to the savage oppression of Black people and its brutal enforcement by the police and the legal system until actual revolution puts an end to this system of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!

Revolution will provide coverage of both trials, and the ongoing situation in Charleston.

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