By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached an $88 million settlement with families of the nine victims killed in a racist attack at a Black South Carolina church in 2015.
Survivors of the shooting by white supremacist Dylann Roof are also covered under the deal, authorities and lawyers announced Thursday.
The massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, was described as one of the most horrific race crimes in recent U.S. history.
Survivors and the victims’ families had sued the government for wrongful death and physical injuries amid ongoing debates about gun laws and race relations in the nation.
The plaintiffs accused authorities of negligence in the background check system that allowed self-declared racist Roof to purchase the gun he used in the church shootings.
Investigators said Roof opened fire during a Bible study at the church, spreading dozens of bullets on those assembled. He was 21 at the time.
Those killed included the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, and other known community members.
Six long years later, the Justice Department says it is ready to settle for $88 million, including $63 million for families of the nine killed. Additionally, $25 million have been granted to five survivors who were inside the church during the shooting.
Bakari Sellers, an attorney who helped broker the agreement, told The Associated Press (AP) news agency that the “88” figure was purposeful.
It’s a number typically associated with white supremacy, and the number of bullets Roof said he had taken with him to the attack.
“We’ve given a big ‘F you to white supremacy and racism,” Sellers told the AP. “We’re doing that by building generational wealth in these Black communities, from one of the most horrific race crimes in the country.”
The deal, reached earlier this month but confirmed Thursday, is still pending a judge’s approval, Sellers said.
Roof, who was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death in federal court, has shown no remorse over his actions.
“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry,” he wrote days after he shot and killed the nine people at the historic Black church in Charleston.
Roof’s words were contained in a journal that was seized by police when they detained the now 27-year-old man.
He pleaded guilty to all counts and currently awaits execution at the maximum-security federal prison for male inmates in Terre Haute in the U.S. state of Indiana.
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