Target: United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Goal: Do not seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof.
Dylann Storm Roof is alleged to have killed nine people last summer in a racially-motivated shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He told his victims, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country” while he shot them. Despite the egregious nature of his actions, the families of the victims have publicly forgiven Roof for his actions while he awaits his trial. The display of forgiveness has elicited bipartisan praise, with President Obama calling it “an expression of faith that is unimaginable but that reflects the goodness of the American people.”
Yet, despite the praise, especially from President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has announced she would seek the death penalty. Even though to some the death penalty is the only form of retribution that comes even remotely close to matching the heinousness of Roof’s alleged actions, there are several things to take into consideration.
Dylann Roof is allegedly a lone gunman, a domestic terrorist, but that doesn’t mean Roof is entirely accountable for what he is alleged to have done. He is a product of an environment, albeit a fringe one, that has been allowed to exist. He found comfort in white supremacy, a sense of fulfillment and gratification. Roof is, in many respects, a product of the racism and violence that is allowed to continue to permeate through the United States. Executing Dylann Roof merely puts a punctuation mark on this incident, but does nothing to stop the venom that contributed to his alleged actions.
Killing Dylann Roof does nothing to fix the factors that influenced him. All it does is remove one life in the name of justice for nine. If we were to actually do something to bring justice to the nine people murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, we would work more diligently to root out the factors that created him — changing the culture that birthed him, destroying the rhetoric that influenced him, and identifying the factors in those who are influenced and finding ways to ameliorate them.
Putting a needle in Dylann Roof’s arm will not do those things. While he needs to be held accountable for his alleged actions, using a barbaric method of retribution is not the way to do this. Fighting fire with fire, an eye for an eye — these are not “just” concepts. Sign the petition to let the Justice Department know you object to putting Dylann Roof to death.
Dear Mrs. Lynch,
While we understand the impulse to strip Dylann Roof of his life like he is alleged to have done to nine others last summer, such retribution is not justice for the deceased. The families of the victims have extended compassion to the man who savagely murdered their loved ones and their compassion has been met with overwhelming support from the public and from Washington, notably via President Obama. How does the Justice Department look in having acknowledged such compassion, but still deciding to pursue a barbaric form of retribution in spite of it?
It is with this in mind that we urge you to drop the pursuit of the death penalty in the upcoming Roof trial. Killing Dylann Roof for killing others only exacerbates perpetuated, unjust forms of reprisal such as “an eye for an eye.” We can’t say definitively whether or not Dylann Roof can be rehabilitated, but he may be, and while no one is saying he should ever see the light of day again, he does not deserve to die.
If we’re going to have the attitude that no one deserves to suffer the same fate as the nine people in that Charleston church, then how can we logically be okay with forcing another person to die?
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: CACorrections