- Muhiyidin d'Bahaorganizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston.
The Emanuel AME shooting suspect Dylann Roof is now jailed next to Michael Slager, the police officer who shot and killed unarmed African American Walter Scott earlier this year in nearby North Charleston. We discuss the state of local activism in the aftermath of the slayings with Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston. “This is not new. We’ve been terrorized for hundreds of years,” d’Baha says. “This is a generation that’s not going to raise our children within the white supremacist structure.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Charleston, South Carolina, outside the historic Emanuel AME Church, where nine African-American worshipers were gunned down on June 17th as they attended Bible study. Just minutes ago, state troopers brought Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s casket down the steps into a hearse. His funeral is being held just blocks from here at College of Charleston, with President Obama delivering the eulogy. The church shooting suspect, Dylann Roof, is now jailed next to Officer Michael Slager, the policeman who shot and killed unarmed African American Walter Scott earlier this year in nearby North Charleston.
To talk about the impact of last week’s massacre on the Black Lives Matter movement, we are joined right now by Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Thank you. Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. As we are broadcasting, you saw the casket of Pastor Pinckney being brought down the stairs. Your thoughts today?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Yeah, the victimization, being terrorized, the impact is always the same. When we’re being terrorized as a community for the last 400 years, it doesn’t matter whether it’s condoned by the state or it’s not condoned by the state. The impact on the community is feeling victimized. And so, as I watched that casket go, I just was shaking my head. Like, when will this end, and how will it end?
AMY GOODMAN: You know, we last talked to you when Walter Scott was killed. Can you talk about what happened then, the actions you were taking then, and how you connected to what has just taken place, this slaughter?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Most definitely.
AMY GOODMAN: In—well, it used to be one town, North Charleston and Charleston, now it’s two?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah. So, again, it’s the same impact upon the community. Whether it’s condoned by the state—state-sponsored violence in Walter Scott’s case—or whether it’s not condoned by the state, the impact is still the same. White supremacy is still ruling and controlling our lives in certain ways that policies, practices and procedures really make up and dictate the way that we live our lives, and it’s enforced by law. It’s enforced and condoned by law. And so, even when we get a sense of sitting on the street, the laws, policies and practices in this town, the way that our schools are organized, the gentrification, it’s all controlling the confinement of our lives and the way that we move. And so, this is just a continuation of that victimization that’s been happening for a very long time, that dehumanization.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts of Officer Slager, the officer who killed Walter Scott, charged with murder, and Dylann Roof in the same jail? It’s a new jail, actually, the Charleston jail.
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Again, this white supremacy is existing within our social structure and has been here for a very long time, so the impact upon the community is always the same. That they’re sitting together, they’ve always been together. You know, they come from the same ideology. They come from the same soil. And so, it’s the soil, it’s the nutrients here, it’s the flag, it’s the ideology, it’s the symbols, that we’re really after.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask what you thought about—well, a number of monuments have been what the media calls “defaced.” I think on the Calhoun statue, what did it say?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: “Racist.”
AMY GOODMAN: It says “Calhoun” and then it’s graffitied “racist.”
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: “Racist,” mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: And then, on the monument, the Confederate monument in Columbia, spray-painted the words “Black Lives Matter.” People have said they have defaced these statues. Would you call it a defacement?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Oh, it’s more of a bringing into light what really is. And I think that’s what we’re trying to do with our movement right now in the way that we’re—our rhetoric. It’s re-examining our history and the white supremacist structures in our history, and naming them and calling them what they are. So when we talk about the flag, we don’t get into agitation of race, we get into talks about abolition and states’ rights. We talk about the reality of it. This country is founded upon economic capital developed from free and cheap labor. Now that that cheap labor is not used because of technological innovation, we have the prison-industrial complex and other ways to subsidize people’s living and housing. Again, the impact on the community has not changed. It’s still the same exact story.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you think what has taken place here, the slaughter that happened just over a week ago—the funerals are underway right now, right through the weekend—will affect the Black Lives Matter movement around the country?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Most definitely. It’s going to ramp it up into another level. Such an assassination—which it was—of a leader, of somebody that’s on the ground trying to bring the grassroots energy, trying to bring the agenda of the people into policy, then to be assassinated, we have to be able to change our rhetoric, and we change our discourse and actually get more passionate. We can’t let another generation grow up under white supremacy enforced by terrorism.
AMY GOODMAN: Any final words on this day, a really sacred day here? As we are here, the hearse has just driven away with Reverend Pinckney’s body. Still, after Reverend Pinckney, there are six more victims who will be memorialized, the funerals for, over the weekend, leading into next week. Two women were remembered yesterday.
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Your final thoughts about your activism and what your plans are, what you want to see happen?
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: For sure. So, the discourse has to be uplifted, and the ground forces have to become more real. This is not a show. This is not something that just happens. This has been happening to our community. The impact on our community has been for hundreds of years. We’ve been terrorized for hundreds of years. So this isn’t new. Unfortunately, our reaction is not anything novel. We have had to sit and pray and say, “O Lord, please bless us, please protect us.” But now it’s no more. Now we have to turn a page in this chapter. It’s not working.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Alexander Gray, our guest before, when I said we’re broadcasting from the heart of the Confederacy, he says, “No, you’ve got it wrong. Atlanta is the heart of the Confederacy, and South Carolina is the soul of the Confederacy.”
MUHIYIDIN D’BAHA: This is true. Well, we are here. And so, if we’re going to fight this battle, this is the first shots of the Civil War that have just been fired. Literally, this is a generation that is not going to raise our children within this white supremacist structure. Something is going to change. As Minister Farrakhan says, it’s justice or else.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Muhiyidin d’Baha, organizer with Black Lives Matter Charleston.