Hate Crime as Domestic Terrorism

Late in the day on Wednesday June 17th, a lone gunman sat for about an hour in a room at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston SC. Then with malice he stood and murdered 9 members of the church who had gathered to pray and study Scripture. The suspect, a white male named Dylann Roof, was reported taken into custody in NC, more than 200 miles from the scene of the crime.

It is not my place to declare one way or the other if this suspect is guilty or not of this horrendous crime. That will be the business of the judicial system in SC. There will be a trial if the suspect is indicted. A jury of his peers will decide guilt or innocence. If found guilty a sentence will be rendered.

What I do believe is that the doer, whoever that might be, of this crime should be found guilty, not just of murder, not just of a hate crime, but also of aggravated domestic terrorism. I don’t know if SC has such a charge available under its justice code. I am inclined to believe that every state in the union ought to pass such a law. President Obama spoke today about the tragedy saying he has had to speak to many times about the loss such events create. CBS news reports indicated that has been 14 times so far in his presidency. It saddens me that I must say ‘so far’ because it is all to certain that such acts of terroristic violence will continue.

Today, Thursday June 18th, 2015, The Atlantic magazine issued a short news piece in which the editors declared an act of domestic terrorism has been committed. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/thugs-and-terrorists-have-plagued-black-churches-for-generations/396212/?utm_source=SFFB  I absolutely agree with this assessment. In my mind the individual who committed these multiple murders acted as a terrorist who hates everything that is good and true about the citizens of Charleston, members of an historic African American church.

The Atlantic news piece recalls many acts of violence against black churches in America. In every case I think the argument can be made that the acts were motivated by terrorist attitudes. It is not just terrorism from overseas about which we must be on guard. This act of terrorism against fellow citizens by a terrorist who is home-grown is equally dangerous.

I do not have an answer, but I hope the leaders of the nation will abandon their normal partisanship and derive a solution that can be applied sooner than later.

Domestic Terrorism is very real. I am currently engaged in a writing project for my second novel on the subject of terrorism. The book, titled A Prairie Vendetta, examines domestic terrorism on a large scale. Set in the province of Saskatchewan, the antagonists are a small band of disgruntled Metis youth. The story will included threats of deaths and destruction.  I’m not finished yet with the story, not that I would write a spoiler here in any event. As I did with the first novel, The Chechen’s Revenge, there will be historically accurate facts interwoven in the story. I do that because I feel it is important to have my readers understand how terrorism occurs in real context and that without serious attempts to combat such terrorism the consequences will be and are substantial, even potentially cataclysmic.

As always, thanks for your support friends. Good Reading to you.


Ron Stotyn, PhDSmallFront-Cover

I am a retired college professor and former broadcast journalist. I live in Vermont with my wife. I write near the shores of Lake Champlain. As an author I cast characters in the task of anti-terrorism efforts. The setting for my stories is Canada. My first novel is The Chechen's Revenge, a story of Sean-Guy O'Dwyer-Lariviere and his team of Canadian Anti-terrorism Service agents on the trail of a rebel Chechen, determined to create havoc and death on Toronto's Go Train system. The Chechen's Revenge is now in print and can be ordered online at https://mkt.com/northof49publishing.

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