Press Release ● Human and Civil Rights
For Immediate Release: 
June 17, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today marking five years since the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina:

“Five years ago, nine African-American parishioners were murdered during a bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, we remember the victims and mourn with their families and community. That attack was a deadly incident of racist violence that shocked the conscience of our nation and served as a reminder that the legacy of slavery and segregation continues to haunt us in the twenty-first century. 

“We observe this five-year anniversary at a moment when our nation is still struggling with how to confront that legacy. As Americans of all races and faiths take to our streets to demand justice for all, I am reminded of the words spoken by President Obama in his eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and legislator killed in the attack. Of our tendency in this country to be outraged at injustice but then to follow it with inaction, President Obama said that ‘it would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. ...To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change - that’s how we lose our way again.’

“Inspired by the memory of those who lost their lives in the Charleston shooting, let us meet this moment with a determination not to allow silence to overtake us once more. Now is a time for action, to follow up with hard work and to refine the raw energy of our despair into the change we know is possible. That’s why House Democrats are pushing for comprehensive legislation to protect Black lives by ending racial bias in policing, and it’s why we already passed H.R. 8 to expand universal background checks and H.R. 1112 to close the Charleston loophole last year, which we continue to urge the Senate to take up and pass. But there is still so much work ahead, and I hope that we can come together to achieve real progress and results by rooting out hatred and racial violence and by reducing stubborn racial disparities in health and wealth and safety in the years to come. To do that will require an end to comfortable silence and a commitment to hard work for lasting change.”