The 2015 Charleston Shooting--Fitch Timeline Submission

In South Carolina in 2012, a 21-year-old white man named Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people.  The shooting was in Charleston at a Black church, and all nine victims were Black church-goers.  Roof sat with the victims and other members for over an hour studying the Bible before he pulled out a gun and began the massacre.  Brent C. Talbot quotes Dylann Roof who, when prompted by victim Tywanza Sanders before his death, stated, “‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go’” (Talbot 2). 

News outlets such as CNN and Fox News heavily covered the attack in the days that followed the murders.  This is important to note because news networks give information to millions of Americans with certain, subtle undertones and narratives.  Roof had (and still has) an intensely racist background; however, this can be overshadowed or outright ignored based on how news networks and social media platforms consistently deliver updates.  Mohammed el-Nawawy and Mohamad Hamad Elmsary conducted research about the way networks spoke of the shooting, specifically AC 360 on CNN.  According to them, AC 360 focused on the positivity and grace the Charleston community possessed following the attacks.  However, when speaking of Roof himself, the news anchors did not address him by name or show pictures of him.  Instead, they spoke of him as a troubled young man who had prior trouble with drugs and racist ideologies (el-Nawawy and Elmasry 950).  Right-wing show The O’Reilly Factor consistently inserted personal bias from O’Reilly himself and did very little reporting on the event itself; instead, the show connected the shooting to politics of America, focusing mostly on how the Second Amendment needed protecting more than ever.  O’Reilly also made a significant point of saying that institutional racism no longer exists, so the shooting could not be connected back to it or structural violence (el-Nawawy and Elmasry 950). 

The debate went on for days and thoroughly divided America. The background of the shooting was filled with cries for the removal of Confederate statues around the nation--the shooting only exacerbated those pleas and arguments against them. Through popular, national news coverage, Dylann Roof and the nine victims--Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Reverend Sharonda Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lace, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Reverend Daniel Simmons Sr.--made tragic history in the ongoing battle of racism in America.


Works Cited

el-Nawawy, Mohammed, and Mohamad Hamas Elmasry. "Is America “Post-Racist”? How AC 360 and The O’Reilly Factor discursively constructed the Charleston church shooting." Journalism Studies 19.7 (2018): 942-959. Web. 

Talbot, Brent C. "“Charleston, Goddam”: An Editorial Introduction to ACT 14.2." Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 14.2 (2015). Web.