Southern Wesleyan University
June 19, 2015 04:50 PM

Calling the Charleston shootings by an alleged white suspect who targeted African-American churchgoers “part of a larger attack on Black and Brown bodies,” the grieving family of victim Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor is calling for “an end to hatred and violence.”

“The very thing many of us fight against – a deeply masked and far-reaching culture of violence in our society – has devastated our family,” the relatives of Middleton Doctor, 49, said in a statement Friday.

“Ever since her death was confirmed, our family has been met with unspeakable pain and grief. Our hearts are troubled, but our faith remains steadfast, trusting and believing in God s power to mend our broken hearts.”

As suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was in court Friday and formally charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, the family asked for prayers for the community of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church. But they also asked for people to “please move away from the sidelines and unite together – regardless of your faith or religious practice – to seek an end to hatred and violence.”

“To impact change, we must recognize the connection between racism, hate crimes and racialized policing. While the focus for this specific attack was on African Americans, we all have a responsibility to seek not only justice for the victims, but an end to racial injustice.”

As one lingering scar, they cited the Confederate flag that flies on South Carolina’s statehouse grounds, calling it “an unequivocal symbol of hate,” and asking for its removal. “We cannot let icons of racism fly free within our society,” the family said.

“We call on all people, public officials, faith leaders and Americans from all walks of life to help address the festering sores of racism as it spurs an unforgiving culture of violence,” their statement read. “This is a big task but may become more manageable if we work together and if all people see the attack in Charleston as an attack on their own families and loved ones.

Individuals who want to donate in memory of the victims of the Charleston church massacre are asked to text “prayforcharleston” to 843-606-5995 or donate online at the Palmetto Project.

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