WASHINGTON, D.C. (Christian Examiner) – In an expletive-laced rant at Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church June 24, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said it is time "to put the American flag down."
Farrakhan was recorded by a local radio station saying the recent mass shooting and the treatment of murder suspect Dylann Roof by the police in Charleston, S.C., illustrate the nation is not concerned about justice for black people.
Roof killed nine people when he opened fire on a prayer service at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He was apprehended by police in Shelby, N.C., the next day.
"White folks march with you cause they don't want you upsetting the city," Farrakhan said. "They don't give a [expletive] about them nine. When they arrested that skunk – you know a skunk is a heck of an animal, you know; even after its dead its funk keeps on going – when they arrested him they took him to Burger King. I'll be [expletive]. Just killed nine human beings and you know what they was saying? You did a good job killing all them [racial slur]."
"You think they were sympathetic. If they were sympathetic with us, they would have snatched him, put him in chains, had the gun on him. I don't know what the [expletive] the fight is about over the Confederate flag. We need to put the American flag down because we caught as much [expletive] under that as the Confederate flag."
Charleston, however, seems not to be buying what Farrakhan is selling. In the wake of the shooting at the church, the Charleston community – black and white – prayed and held church services in solidarity and remembrance of the church members killed.
So every time we die, they give us a symbol, no substance. We died on Edmund Pettus Bridge under that flag – under that flag. We fought in wars under that flag and came back and were hung and murdered and brutalized under that flag. So don't give us no symbol. Well now, we're gonna pull the flag down. That's as easy as pulling your pants down. You got to answer a call to nature, you pull your pants down. That's easy. Pull a flag down and you supposed to go away satisfied?
Outside of those circles, a movement to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's statehouse grounds began. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said she was asking legislators to begin the process of removing the flag, seen by many as a symbol of their heritage, but by others as a symbol of hate.
"The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect and in many ways revere it," Haley said at a press conference.
Evangelical leaders have also called for the Confederate battle flag's removal from capitol grounds.
Still, Farrakhan says the sympathy shown, the arrest of the sole suspect, and the removal of the flag are not enough.
"Who are we fighting today? It's the people that carry the American flag. What flag do the police have? What flag flies over the non-Justice Department? What flag flies over the White House, where a black man lives that's called [expletive][racial slur] every day? What about that flag?"
"So every time we die, they give us a symbol, no substance. We died on Edmund Pettus Bridge under that flag – under that flag. We fought in wars under that flag and came back and were hung and murdered and brutalized under that flag. So don't give us no symbol. Well now, we're gonna pull the flag down. That's as easy as pulling your pants down. You got to answer a call to nature, you pull your pants down. That's easy. Pull a flag down and you supposed to go away satisfied? See, you don't know what justice looks like if somebody can pull a flag down and you're happy as if they did something. We want justice under that flag or what the [expletive] is the use of pledging allegiance to a flag under which we get no justice?"
According to police reports, Roof said he selected Emanuel AME Church as a target because he believed the killings would start a race war. Farrakhan seems to indicate such a conflict would be acceptable to him.
In a radio interview June 11, Farrakhan said black people should be ready for conflict and tumult in the days ahead because God would soon overturn the powers that be. He called on blacks to separate from whites and become their own nation.
"You know, God has chosen us, black people—the despised, the rejected, the unloved, the unwanted: He chose us to be the cornerstone of a brand new world and civilization; but we just have to clean up," Farrakhan said.
Others have also called for open conflict. At a rally Tuesday, only a few blocks from the church were the shooting occurred, New Black Panthers leader Malik Zulu Shabazz said it was time for blacks to kill whites and take control of their property "by any means necessary."
According to World Net Daily, Shabazz referenced the mission of Denmark Vessey, one of the founders of the AME Church in Charleston, who was accused by white slaveholders of fomenting a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey planned the revolt and murder of white slaveholders, but when the plans were discovered he was executed along with five other men. Others, including Vessey's son, were executed later and some slaves were deported.
The AME Church Vessey founded later became Emanuel AME, the site of the shooting June 17.
"Vesey had a plan to kill all the slave masters in the state," Shabazz said at his rally. "All of their [expletive] families. We need some Denmark Veseys today. We got to complete what Denmark didn't finish."
Shabazz condemned blacks who sought better relationships with the white community. He said they were "sitting in the house of God talking about 'we shall overcome.' We shall overcome with who? The children of the slave masters?"
"We came to change the order here," he said. "[Expletive], we don't forgive nobody."
Farrakhan was in Washington, D.C., to discuss plans for his upcoming "Million Man March" at the National Mall. He has been traveling the country, promoting the march under the banner, "Justice, or Else!"