Slain Pastor's Healing Words: 'The Lord Teaches Us to Love All'

By Melanie Arter | June 18, 2015 | 1:20 PM EDT

South Carolina state Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, right, talks to a supporter during a break at a statehouse hearing in 2012. (Jeffrey Collins / Associated Press)

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Church and a South Carolina state senator, was gunned down Wednesday night along with eight others during a prayer service.

Earlier this year, after Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, had been gunned down by former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, Pinckney gave a speech calling for compassion and stating that "the Lord teaches us to love all."

Pinckney gave the speech on Jan. 13 as one of the co-sponsors of a bill requiring body cameras for police. Former officer Slager was charged last week with Scott’s murder.

"I believe that as a legislature--that as a State--we have a great opportunity to allow sunshine into this process, to at least give us new eyes for seeing so that we able to make sure that our proud and great law enforcement officers and every citizen that we represent is able to at least know that they will be seen and heard and that their rights will be protected,"  Sen. Pinckney said.

"Our hearts go out to the Scott family," he said. "Our hearts go out to the Slager family because the Lord teaches us to love all. We pray that over time that justice will be done."

Pinckney’s remarks were ordered printed in the Senate Journal of April 14, 2015:

"Mr. PRESIDENT, and members of the Senate, as I stand here today I am reminded of one of our former colleagues. Though he is small in stature, he stood tall in moments in which the soul of the State, and in particular the soul of the Senate, were called into question. He always challenged us to rise to a higher level. I am referring to the great Senator PATTERSON, who from time to time would rise and remind us of the greatness of this august body.

"Today the nation looks at South Carolina to see if we will rise to be the body and the State that we say that we really are. Over the past week many of us have seen on the television and read in the newspapers reports about Walter Scott, who in my words was murdered in North Charleston. It has really created a heartache and a yearning for justice. Not just a yearning in the African American community, but for all people. Not just in the Charleston area or in South Carolina, but across our country. Senator KIMPSON, Senator MALLOY, Senator THURMOND, Senator GROOMS and others are leading a bipartisan effort for us to have body cameras.

"As we are in the Christian season of Easter we are reminded of the story of Jesus gathering his disciples in Galilee in the upper room. In that week following Easter, every disciple was there except for Thomas. I will offer a small recap of the story. Jesus walks through a locked door and the disciples see something that amazed them. They saw the living Jesus. They were able to see the nails in his hands and they were able to put their hand in his sides. Jesus allowed them to see this as proof, so that they would have no doubt. But one person was missing, and that was Thomas.

"When Thomas heard the news, he said he did not believe it. He said there was no way, it had to be impossible. He said that Jesus was dead and there was no way that he came and visited. But the next week Thomas was there. Jesus walked in, he said, 'I will not believe until I see the nails. I will not believe until I can put my hand in your side.' And it was only when he was able to do that; he said, 'I believe, my Lord and my God.'

"Lady and gentlemen of the Senate, when we first heard on the television that a police officer had gunned down an unarmed African American in North Charleston by the name of Walter Scott, there were some who said 'Wow! The national story has come home to South Carolina.' But there are many who said that there was no way that a police officer would ever shoot somebody in the back six, seven or eight times.

"Like Thomas, when we were able to see the video and we were able to see the gun shots, and we then saw him fall to the ground... And when we then saw the police officer come over and hand cuff him on the ground; without even trying to resuscitate him -- without even seeing if he was really alive, without calling an ambulance, without calling for help... We saw him die face down on the ground as if he were gunned down like game. I believe we all were like Thomas and said, 'I believe.' 

What if Mr. Santiago was not there to record what happened? I'm sure that many of us would still say like Thomas, we do not believe. I believe that as a legislature -- that as a State -- we have a great opportunity to allow sunshine into this process, to at least give us new eyes for seeing so that we able to make sure that our proud and great law enforcement officers and every citizen that we represent is able to at least know that they will be seen and heard and that their rights will be protected.

"I have a hope and desire for South Carolina, where we have great multinational companies like Boeing which is located just a stone's throw away from where Walter Scott died. We also have a great international airport where the ports are not far away. It is my hope as South Carolina Senators that we will stand up for what is best and good about our State and really adopt this legislation in an effort to find a way to have body cameras utilized in South Carolina. Our hearts go out to the Scott family. Our hearts go out to the Slager family because the Lord teaches us to love all. We pray that over time that justice will be done. Thank you."



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