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Dylann Roof Trial Decides His Fate And Ours
12/14/2016 1:29:25 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Dylann Roof may be on trial for the June 17, 2015 murder of nine members of Emanuel AME Church, but also on trial is the community which gave him birth.

Gruesome details of the mass murder have surfaced since Roof’s trial began last week that depict a horrific scene of human carnage. And as more details about the perpetrator, barely into his adulthood, paint a picture of an enigmatic hate-filled man/monster questions about what produced him overshadow any questions of guilt or his ultimate fate.

JA Moore is Myra Thompson’s brother. She was among the nine worshippers murdered by Roof. Monday he and his wife Victoria shared their thoughts as Roof’s trial moves into its second week. The videos and testimonies that detail the prosecutors’ case against Roof who fired a total of 54 bullets into the nine victims make more real the reality they have confronted for the past 18 months, Victoria Boynton Moore said Monday. Sorting through her jumbled thoughts has been challenging. What else are they going through besides a trial for the admitted mass murderer, she asked herself.

In response she said she tries to find parallels that tie into the psyche of a 22-year-old who’s been so indoctrinated by a culture that provoked him to commit such a heinous crime.

“Where are we,” she asks herself searching for clues that perhaps might point to some mental illness or deformity. She says she doesn’t want Roof’s trial to be about him. Though his actions are definitely unacceptable, the trial also has to scrutinize what’s going on in our world. In this day and time, in 2016, the mentality that produced Dylann Roof still exists. We must address that, she said.

Her husband shares that perspective. He said the outcome of Dylann Roof’s trial must go beyond whether Roof dies or lives the rest of his life imprisoned. But Moore refuses to get stuck on the lingering question, “Where do we go from here?”

That question’s always asked and the answer always is the same, he said. It’s an automatic question that produces automatic responses which always fall short of the expectations. Moore doesn’t want to wait on the world to change to prevent the development of future Dylann Roofs. It involves empowerment, he said. The answer to that pervasive question lies in the pragmatism of economic development and self sufficiency, he believes. Dylann Roof’s trial goes beyond deciding Roof’s fate to deciding our own fate. Responding to Dylann Roof is bigger than protests and boycotts.

Thompson’s family is using money from the outpouring of financial gifts allotted survivors since the tragedy to fund the non-profit Passion to Forgive Project started by Kevin Singleton, son of Myra Thompson. The organization's mission is to provide educational programming and resources to underserved youth and their families. And the Myra Singleton-Thompson Scholarship was developed to provide support for teenage mothers continuing their education. Myra was a teenage mom who went on to achieve two Masters Degrees and a license to ministry. For more information, please visit

Moore says in the wake of the Michael Slager mistrial, our community should be sufficiently motivated to do the work that uplifts black people. “I just hope to give enough where right and good can happen,” he said.

(l-r) JA Moore and Victoria Rae Moore (credit: Calvin Brown of NFINITY INTERNATIONAL Photography)

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