A magistrate judge in South Carolina has set bond at $1 million on a weapons charge for a 21-year-old man suspected of murdering nine people during a church meeting on Wednesday – but the hearing had shades of revival meeting embedded as family members of the victims used a victims’ impact statement time to forgive the alleged killer.
Dylann Roof was making his first appearance on the charges on Friday, and was in front of a camera in a tiny locked room in the jail near the courthouse. Two armed officers stood behind him during the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes.
Roof, wearing prison garb with a packet of papers in his shirt pocket, appeared subdued, answered the judge’s questions about age and address briefly, and appeared to show no emotion. His hands remained cuffed during the hearing.
The judge, James Gosnell, said he was not authorized by statute to set bond on murder charges, so Roof would remain behind bars no matter any other ruling on Friday.
He set Roof’s next court appearance for Oct. 23, and a subsequent hearing on Feb. 5, 2016.
In a move that was out of the ordinary, the judge himself made a statement before beginning the hearing.
“Charleston is a strong, very strong community,” he said. “We have big hearts. We’re a very loving community. We’re going to reach out to all victims … and we will touch them. We have victims, nine of them.”
But he also noted the victims on the “other side,” those members of Roof’s family.
“We must find it in our heart that at some point in time not only to help those who are victims but to help his family as well.”
The judge read the charges, and asked representatives of the victims’ families if they wanted to make statements. Several declined, but others came forward.
The daughter of victim Ethel Lance said, “I will never be able to hold her, but I forgive you. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but I forgive you.”
A relative of victim Myra Thompson appeared to address Roof directly, “Take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to one who matters the most, Christ, so that he can change you.”
A family member for Tywanza Sanders said, “May God have mercy on your soul.”
Several others said they were determined that, although it appeared hate prompted the crime, they would not allow hate to reign.
One said, “We are the family that love built. We have no room for hate. We have to forgive … [but] I thank God I won’t be … around when your judgment day comes with Him.”
See WND’s extensive coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a town’s sign regulations must be content-neutral in order to be legal, striking down the rules that had been set up by officials in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, that targeted church signs with more restrictions than signs in other categories.
“The sign code identifies various categories of signs based on the type of information they convey, then subjects each category to different restrictions. One of the categories is ‘Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event,’ loosely defined as signs directing the public to a meeting of a nonprofit group. The code imposes more stringent restrictions on these signs than it does on signs conveying other messages. We hold that these provisions are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive,” the opinion said.
The issue was the town demanded church signs be posted only shortly before a “qualifying event” and removed immediately after, allowing very little time for the churches to let the public know of events.
The case was brought by Pastor Clyde Reed of Good News Community Church when his organization was cited for leaving a sign up too long after a meeting. His congregation rents temporary spaces each week for services, and he uses the signs to let people know where the meetings are being held.
The case was fought on his behalf by the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF spokesman David Cortman said, “Speech discrimination is wrong regardless of whether the government intended to violate the First Amendment or not, and it doesn’t matter if the government thinks its discrimination was well-intended. It’s still government playing favorites, and that’s unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court today found.”
Among the categories are “Ideological Signs,” “Political Signs” and “Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event.”
Those “events” are any “assembly, gathering, activity, or meeting sponsored, arranged, or promoted by a religious, charitable, community service, educational, or other similar non-profit organization.”
Ideological signs can be 20 square feet with no time limits, while political signs could be 16 square feet and be up 60 days before and 15 days after elections.
But, the opinion said, “The code treats temporary directional signs even less favorable than political signs.”
“Temporary direction signs may be no larger than six square feet. They may be placed on private property or on a public right-of-way, but no more than four signs may be placed on a single property at any time. And, they may be displayed no more than 12 hours before the ‘qualifying event’ and no more than 1 hour afterward.”
That means for a 9 a.m. service, a sign could go up no earlier than 9 p.m., and would lose its effectiveness because of minimal traffic during overnight hours.
The church wanted to display times and locations of services, and would use signs to do that. A dozen or more with the name, location and time were posted on Saturdays and then taken down on Sundays.
The town twice cited the church for violating its sign code, specifically for exceeding time limits. Officials even confiscated one of the signs.
The town responded to the pastor’s concerns by promising “no leniency under the code,” and punishment, including the possibility of jail time, for “future violations.”
The district and intermediate appeals courts sided with the city, but Thomas wrote, “The First Amendment … prohibits the enactment of laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech.’”
He continued, “Content-based laws – those that target speech based on its communicative content – are presumptively unconstitutional and may be justified only if the government proves that they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests.”
He said, “The restrictions in the sign code that apply to any given sign … depend entirely on the communicative content of the sign. If a sign informs its reader of the time and place a book club will discuss John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, that sign will be treated differently from a sign expressing the view that one should vote for one of Locke’s followers in an upcoming election, and both signs will be treated differently from a sign expressing an ideological view rooted in Locke’s theory of government.”
His conclusion, “The sign code is a content-based regulation of speech.”
In a discussion about the case as it developed, ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco explained the real question was whether free speech plaintiffs have to prove the government intentionally discriminated against their speech.
“So what? Well, the problem with requiring proof of discriminatory motive is that motive is notoriously hard to prove. Put simply, if discriminatory intent must be proven a lot more speech will be prohibited,” he explained.
“Make no mistake, not just religious speech but all types of speech would be in serious peril if Gilbert gets its way. … The government isn’t going to voluntarily give the true reason it enacted a law that unlawfully restricts speech. Instead, it’s going to give a lot of other plausible sounding motives to explain away its actions.
“In the end, whether the government’s speech discrimination is intentional or unintentional should not be a reason to allow it to continue. And that is the principal we are fighting to re-establish in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.”
(HOLLYWOODREPORTER) — “Whoa, hold the telefono. I know you just got back from Miami, but I didn’t realize I was interviewing Governor Pitbull.”
Jeb Bush stopped by The Tonight Show on Tuesday night to “slow jam the news.”
The Republican presidential candidate made his first-ever late-night appearance in the Tonight Show’s signature bit, in which he spoke over R&B beats while host Jimmy Fallon threw in his signature “oh yeah” phrases and echoes.
“We’re a nation of immigrants, and I believe everyone should have the chance to achieve the American dream,” said the former Florida governor before repeating the sentence in Spanish “to translate that for all your Spanish-speaking viewers.”
(U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday against strengthening marriage rights for binational couples who wish to live together in the United States.
Justices found in Kerry v. Din that naturalized U.S. citizen Fauzia Din cannot force greater explanation about or overturn in court the rejection of her Afghan husband Kanishka Berashk’s visa application.
The couple married in 2006. A year later, Din became an American citizen and Berashk requested a U.S. visa to join her. But his prior work in the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan apparently derailed the plan.
Housing and Urban Development employees have generous relocation benefits, thanks to taxpayers.
Taxpayers have shelled out about $2.9 million to pay the relocation costs of 125 Housing and Urban Development workers since 2013, a Politico analysis found.
And that’s just a little more than half of what HUD set aside for relocation expenses for workers during that time frame.
Politico, via a Freedom of Information Act request, discovered the agency reserved $5.5 million for the relocation costs of its employees – including money for storage, airline tickets and even home sales’ offsets so transferring workers wouldn’t lose money on mortgages they held that were worth more than market values.
The $2.9 million in 2013 figures out to about $23,000 in moving costs per person, Politico said.
“When the taxpayers look at this they see the dysfunction of the federal government in very stark relief,” said Leslie Paige, the vice president of policy for Citizens Against Government Waste, in Politico.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro is generally regarded as a rising Democratic Party star, and potential vice presidential running mate for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He actually refused a $14,000 relocation subsidy by HUD for himself, calling it too generous.
“I said, ‘I don’t need that,’” Castro said to Politico at the time, in reference to HUD’s money offer to only “hold our stuff for one or two nights somewhere.”
Still, Republicans have been targeting HUD’s annual $50 billion budget for cuts, fueled in part by various taxpayer watchdog reports.
“When you look at some real estate expenses, you have to question how these are justified,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Politico reported. “In the constrained fiscal climate created by the budget caps, every agency must evaluate their spending decisions.”
(Gateway Pundit) Spokane police suspended all reported hate crimes against fake black activists Rachel Dolezal on Friday. Investigators said the controversial letters did not have a post office stamp or barcode and therefore were most likely placed into the box by someone with a key.
(Curbed) California’s epic statewide drought has lead to mandatory water restrictions and a new state pastime, droughtshaming, but less-discussed is the fact that the drought is SINKING THE STATE.
The Center for Investigative Reporting looked into just how bad the sinking has gotten and found that there’s not a lot being done to monitor the phenomenon at a statewide level, and equally little money being put toward studying it, despite the fact that it’s causing infrastructural problems across California and will continue to do so. CIR also found that key elements for studying the dangerously accelerated sinking of the state aren’t accessible to scientists because “California allows agriculture businesses to keep crucial parts of their operations secret.”
The cause of the sinking is known, and it’s happened in California before. Once, it was even as bad as geologists think it might be now. Back then, it took more than $1 billion just to repair some of the damage.
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