CLEVELAND– People in Northeast Ohio continue to remember the victims of the Charleston church shooting, hoping the tragedy helps race relations nationwide.
People of different races, different religions, different backgrounds came together at University Circle United Methodist Church Tuesday evening.
“We stand to say that love conquers all,” said NAACP Cleveland chapter president, Rev. Hilton Smith.
The audience gathered to remember the nine people killed last Wednesday night when police say 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire inside a bible study class at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“We stand up and speak out for what we believe is appropriate and right and advocate and lead our lives in such a way that hatred does not win,” said Rev. Kenneth Chalker, pastor of University Circle United Methodist Church.
Reverend Charles Lucas, pastor of St. James AME Church here in Cleveland said he knew some of the victims and members of his congregation are related to several of them.
“A number of people have asked me, ‘how did they let him in?’ I said you don’t understand the church; right now those doors are open as wide as they can be. Anybody can walk in; we want you in,” said Rev. Charles Lucas, of St. James AME Church.
“This past week, we had nine people, no that’s not correct, we had an entire country victimized once again by race and a negative attitude of race where on individual carried out the deed, but someone helped him arrive at that attitude,” said NAACP attorney Michael Nelson.
“I’m just hopeful and I’m just looking forward to working with my new friend (absolutely)…did you all meet here tonight? We did; we were sitting in the same row,” said Meredith Turner, who attended on behalf of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.
The service clearly touched many people who attended.
“People need to walk together, rid out all the injustices and hate in the world,” said church member, Chuck McDougall.
“We can walk together and walk hand in hand just because we’re all people and we all love one another,” said his wife, Heidi McDougall, who is also a pastor at the church.