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Church Officials Stole Emanuel Murder Victims’ Donations Says Survivor
5/25/2016 4:36:27 PM

The late Cynthia Hurd with husband Arthur
By Barney Blakeney

Arthur Hurd, husband of Cynthia Hurd, one of the victims murdered last June along with eight others at Emanuel AME Church, this week responded to the distribution of nearly $4 million donated after the massacre. Distributors divided $1.5 million among the victims’ survivors and retained $1.8 million for the church. Hurd called the distribution thievery.

“Before the murder, nobody sent Emanuel any money to buy usher robes or repair the roof. People sent money with the intent it would go to the survivors. Everybody knows what that money was intended for. People sent their money honestly thinking the church would do right by the families. I’m saying the distribution was wrong and the people in the church need to stand up and say it was wrong. Not because of the money, but because of the principle," Hurd said angrily last week.

The church three weeks ago disbursed $1.5 million to the families of the victims and survivors and kept $1.8 million from the donations it received after the June 17 mass murder. There has been widespread criticism of the disbursement with critics saying all, or at least most of the donations should have gone to the victims’ families and survivors.

Hurd challenged church officials who were receiving the donations almost immediately. On a visit to the church a few weeks after the massacre, Hurd said he watched women opening envelopes addressed to the church containing donations.

He said he watched thousands of dollars being taken from envelopes. He hired an attorney, who filed a lawsuit that demanded an accounting of the donations which prevented any disbursements until earlier this month.

“We were hit blindsided,” Hurd said about the letter he received which offered neither explanation nor information. “It was like they said take this and shut up!”

Describing the distributors as weak, spineless thieves, Hurd recalled the ordeal he endured after his wife’s murder. A merchant marine, Hurd said he was in Oman when he learned of the massacre. He arrived in Charleston two days after the murders. He had no information about the tragedy and no time to grieve. His reception by church officials was tepid even as he made funeral arrangements for his wife of 14 years amid the chaos and calamity in the aftermath of the shootings.

Hurd said he received no sympathy from church officials and like other victims who lost loved ones in the massacre, had to struggle through the horror without the spiritual support of the church family both he and his wife had grown up with. Repeating the words of one church official who called the disbursements generous, Hurd asked, “Did he lose anybody? I’m still suffering because of the deep scar left by their actions. We were robbed first by (Dylan) Roof and now by the church. What makes the church any better than Roof? He took from us and so did they.”

While many others including callers into the nationally syndicated D.L. Hughley radio show criticized the church’s disbursement of the donations, Hurd said members of the Emanuel family and others in the religious community publicly should denounce the disbursements.

“What they did was unimaginable. It was wrong and it won’t be made right until those at Emanuel and other religious leaders say it was wrong,” Hurd said.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Frances Submitted: 5/25/2016
Thank-you for sharing a story that definitely needed to be told.

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