A handout photograph posted to a website with a racist manifesto appears to show Dylann Roof posing with a handgun. Photo: HANDOUT A website has emerged allegedly showing shooting suspect Dylann Roof posing with guns. Photo: Handout
This undated photo appears to show Dylann Roof burning the US flag. Photo: Handout
This undated image that appeared on a website being investigated by the FBI. Photo: Handout
Racist website emerges with photos of Charleston shooting suspect
Charleston: In newly discovered photographs of Dylann Roof, the young white man accused of massacring a black prayer group in Charleston, he poses with a Confederate flag, gazing as dully at the camera as he did during Friday’s court appearance.
In one he sits amid plastic planter pots gripping a Glock pistol in one hand and the Confederate flag in the other.
In another he is seen burning the flag of the United States.
“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight,” reads a manifesto apparently written by Roof.
“I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.
“Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
The photos show him posing at historically significant Confederate sites.
Other photos have shown him posing with a car with a Confederate flag image on its license plate.
The mass killing has sparked another round of an ongoing debate over the flag in South Carolina, where it was first flown over the State House in 1961 as the Civil Rights movement took hold.
Many African Americans liken the flag to the Swastika.
After a bitter public debate it was removed to a nearby memorial. After the shooting many were offended that while state and national flags on the grounds were lowered the Confederate remained at full mast.
Speaking with Fairfax Media, T. Leland Summers, commander of the South Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate veterans, dismissed any link between the flag and racism.
He also argued the Civil War was not fought over slavery, rather the growth of over-reaching federal government and high taxes.
Asked why Roof might have been drawn to the Confederate flag Mr Leland said it was because he was a disturbed young man with no structure. He described him as a “racist terrorist”.
Asked why he believed many people were again calling for the flag to be removed from public display in the wake of the attack he said it was because they did not understand what the flag stood for.
He said those who were discussing the flag at present were exploiting a tragedy suffered by South Carolina.
An email he wrote to members earlier in the day began: “Compatriots and Officers, once again we are under attack.”
It went on, “The events of recent at Emmanuel AME Church were the premeditated acts of a racist coward. He is in no way nor has he ever been associated with us. We have a very strict hate policy, which is stringently enforced.”
That hate policy bans members from using the organisation to recruit for white supremacist organisations.
The shooting has also spurred debate over access to guns, with President Obama addressing the issue twice, first in the hours after the attack, and again at a conference of American mayors on Friday when he toughened his rhetoric.
“I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act,” he said.
“And some reporters, I think, took this as resignation. I want to be clear — I am not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing. I was simply making the point that we have to move public opinion. We have to feel a sense of urgency. Ultimately, Congress will follow the people.”
Addressing the same conference Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the presidential election, said, “How could it be possible that we as a nation still allow guns to fall into the hands of people whose hearts are filled with hate?
“It makes no sense that bipartisan legislation to require universal background checks would fail in Congress despite overwhelming bipartisan support,” she said.
“It makes no sense that we couldn’t come together to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, or people suffering from mental illnesses, even people on the terrorist watch list. That doesn’t make sense, and it is a rebuke to this nation we love and care about.”
In Charleston on Saturday the makeshift shrine continued to grow at the church known locally as Mother Emanuel. More public rallies, services and vigils are planned for the coming days.
At the gun range and shop outside town that became the centre of some controversy after an advertisement for a women’s shooting night appeared on a sticker above a headline about the mass shooting, business was brisk on Saturday.
A manager, Stephanie, who did not want her surname used, said the gun shop felt for the victims and families, and had tried to pull their ad when they realised what had happened.
She said the evening had gone ahead as usual, with about 30 women attending for handgun classes on Thursday night.
Inside the two ranges groups practice with long arms and handguns. Some appeared to be husbands and wives, some fathers and sons.
One older man instructed a young man with what appeared to be a .45 calibre semi-automatic, similar to the weapon police say was used in the massacre in the church. The young man wore a T-shirt that read “Strike Hard, Strike Often”.
At the Magnolia cemetery on the outskirts of Charleston, small Confederate flags fluttered in the hot wind over the graves of young men who had died in 1863 at Gettysburg, almost 1000 kilometres to the north.
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