Civil Rights Commentary U.S.

‘These people sat there and waited their turn to be shot’ – Rep. William Chumley

In an inexcusable display of egregious behavior, South Carolina State Rep. William Chumley, R-S.C., blamed the victims of the Charleston shooting in a recent interview.

While speaking to CNN’s Drew Griffin on Tuesday, June 23, the state representative shockingly said:

“These people sat there and waited their turn to be shot.”

Griffin was asking Chumley if he believed the Confederate battle flag currently displayed on state grounds in front of the Capitol building should be taken down. The representative argued against the #TakeItDown debate, and asserted the issue was settled 15 years ago in a compromise and his constituents have called his office insisting the flag remain.

When asked about hate groups using the flag, he said:

“Why do we let hate groups dictate how we feel and how we live? Hate groups are everywhere. There are mean people everywhere.”

That’s right. Mean. People. Are. Everywhere.

Chumley went on to say:

“These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad. Somebody in there with a means of self-defense could have stopped this and we’d have less funerals than we’re having. Why didn’t someone do something?  You got one skinny-person shooting a gun… we need to do what we can.” 

He also added, “I understand he reloaded the gun in the process, that’s upsetting.”

No, sir. Your callous remarks are upsetting. Blaming victims of domestic terrorism is upsetting.

In the interview, Chumley spoke about the miseducation and misuse of the flag. Perhaps he needs to be reminded of the following accounts of American history concerning his state:

1860 – South Carolina is the first state to secede from the Union after Abraham Lincoln — an anti-slavery candidate – is elected President.

1962 – The legislature agrees to raise the Confederate battle flag at the top of the Capitol dome marking the centennial of the start of the Civil War and in defiance of the Civil Rights movement and desegregation.

2000 – A compromised is reached and the battle flag is taken down and raised at the memorial for Confederate soldiers. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. told NBC’s Meet the Press on June 21, that the compromise was to move the flag out of public view, in the back, not in the front.

The only miseducation concerning the Confederate battle flag comes from those that continue to pretend it is not a symbol of hatred, racism and oppression — a symbol proudly used in battle by those who believed in slavery and that owning another human being was a God given right.

While Chumley has since apologized for his comments, his absent-minded, careless remarks demonstrate how deeply removed from the reality of gun-violence he and other politicians are. He has demonstrated how the old-guard of the South Carolina legislature continues to be deeply rooted in their own beliefs, as outdated as they are.

About the author

Wendy Carrillo

Wendy Carrillo is the West Coast anchor/producer at Reported.ly. She joined First Look Media in December of 2014 to help launch Reported.ly.

For the past eight years, she’s been the host and executive producer of the radio news magazine show, “Knowledge is Power” on KPWR Los Angeles, integrating social networks to crowdsource and curate show topics and conversations. Wendy is a regular contributor to various online and TV news networks and has hosted discussions on race, identity and politics for local NPR affiliates and various non-profit town halls. Most recently, she worked as a digital producer and writer for NUVOtv. 

She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Online News Association (ONA) and holds a BA in Communications from CSULA and an MA in Journalism from USC.

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