A week after the slaughter of nine people at an African American church in Charleston, Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited the scene of perhaps the most notorious attack on a black congregation prior to South Carolina that helped galvanize the American civil rights movement.
Lynch toured the 16th Street Baptist Church here Wednesday where four black girls died in a bombing 52 years ago, an attack that has drawn grim parallels to last week’s mass shooting at the iconic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Just two months into her tenure, Lynch, the first African American woman to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, has been forced to confront a simmering mix of racially charged incidents, from the riots that followed the death of black man at the hands of Baltimore police to the stunning Charleston attack that resulted in the arrest of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a white man who allegedly sought to incite a race war.
Lynch’s Justice Department has opened a hate crime investigation into the shooting as state authorities have begun to move forward with a mass murder prosecution.
The attorney general’s visit, long planned to continue the administration’s effort to promote community trust in local policing, was nevertheless rich in symbolism as South Carolina and other communities across the country began fresh examinations of their racial histories, including Alabama.
Shortly after the attorney general began a series of meetings here, Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of the Confederate battle flag from a memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol in Montgomery. It’s the latest Southern state to confront its display of a volatile symbol of racial oppression that Roof allegedly embraced in photographs and in a hate-inspired manifesto posted on a social media account prior to the murders.
Source: USA Today | Kevin Johnson