Cash Accountability: Families Of Charleston Church Hate Crime Victims Settle With Department Of Justice For $88 Million

Fully-formed criminal justice.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty

On June 15, 2017 Dylann Roof walked into Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and commenced to murder 9 Black people. He was ultimately convicted of the massacre and was sentenced to death. We imagine that the families of the victims were satisfied with that outcome despite the fact that they would much rather have their loved ones back. That said, Dylann Roof wasn’t the only person culpable for this hate crime. As usual, the federal government also had a role to play in allowing this tragedy to happen.

According to TIME, the U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the families of the victims to the tune of $88 million. Following the massacre, the families filed a lawsuit against the FBI for failing to recognize that Roof, a loud and proud white supremacist who openly spoke about his desire for a race war, should not have been allowed to purchase the weapon he used to take those lives. The families’ attorney Bakari Sellers says that $88 million is not an arbitrary number. 88 was the number of bullets that were fired that day, and it is also the number that white supremacists rep as “h” is the 8th letter of the alphabet. “HH” is a reference to “heil Hitler”.

“We didn’t necessarily know we were going to land on that number. It’s rooted in such deep hatred and racism and white supremacy. But now, it’s going to represent generational wealth for Black communities in the deep South,” Sellers says. “I want people to remember that this was done all because they were Black.”

The Justice Department released a statement explaining how the money will be distributed amongst survivors and their families.

The victims’ families are expected to receive settlements ranging from $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant, and survivors are expected to receive $5 million per claimant, according to the DOJ. The deal is still awaiting a judge’s final approval. Sellers says that of the $88 million, survivors are expected to receive $25 million and victims are expected to receive $63 million.

Death to Dylann Roof and $88 million sounds a lot more like justice than most cases where Black people are killed.

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