Dylann Roof Brought to Justice


Photo courtesy of Grace Beahm

Dylann Roof receives the death penalty for the Charleston shooting.

Dylann Roof, 22, is an infamous white-supremacist who is known for the horrific hate crime that occurred in June of 2015. He shot into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black people. After 17 hours on the run, he was eventually caught and brought in for questioning. Months later, a trial was held on December of 2016, where Roof decided to sideline his legal team and represent himself in court. He waved a defense based on his psychological capacity, which was his best opportunity to avoid execution.

Photo courtesy of Win McNamee
A prayer vigil is held at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 2015.

A federal jury made up of nine whites and three blacks would determine Roof’s fate. They presented a video and written evidence from the prosecution, including the two hour interrogation conducted by the FBI the day after the shooting and the journal Roof wrote in before committing the crime. During the interrogation video, Roof showed no signs of remorse or regret.

Instead, he “laughed repeatedly and made exaggerated gun motions as he described the massacre” (CBS News). “I had to do it because somebody had to,” Roof said. “Blacks are raping and killing white people on the streets every day… What I did is still minuscule to what they’re doing to white people every day.”

The jury eventually found Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack on December 15, 2016. Subsequently on January 10, 2017, he was given the death penalty. According to a Justice Department spokesman, Roof will become the “first federal hate crime defendant to be sentenced to death” (CNN).

Our society is simply too afraid of labeling a white person as a terrorist when they actually commit violent hate crimes. We have allowed innocent Muslims to be labeled this instead, and we need to change our nation’s rhetoric. Kelly Nguyen (11) thinks that Dylann Roof is “simply a terrorist and the only reason why he wasn’t charged with terrorism is because he’s white. He massacred 9 people in a violent act of racism and to advance an anti-black agenda to intimidate the civilian population, the foundation for what the US considers terrorism.” She remembers all the newspapers portraying him as confused kid, and didn’t say the outright truth— that he was a terrorist fueled by hate.

Recently, Roof’s attorneys claimed the government “failed to prove his use of the internet, highways and a gun manufactured out of state were sufficient enough links to allow religious obstruction charges” (Fox News). They have requested a new federal trial to clear things up, but for now, Roof remains in custody in the Charleston County jail, where he awaits a death penalty trial in state court.