Charleston, S.C. — This is how the city of Charleston handles unspeakable tragedy.
On Sunday evening, hours after Emanuel A.M.E. Church opened its doors for the first service following the killing of nine of its congregants Wednesday, thousands in Charleston took to the streets in a show of support and solidarity.
A line of people packed Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, stretching more than two miles from the town of Mount Pleasant to the city of Charleston. Observers on the bridge, and thousands more at the base, joined hands to create a “unity chain,” then held a moment of silence that lasted five minutes in honor of the fallen.
Last Wednesday, 21-year-old Dylann Roof joined a Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. Police say just an hour into the service, Roof removed a gun from a small pack he was wearing and began shooting. When the gunfire ceased, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. were dead.
Police estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 took part in Sunday’s gathering, according to the Post and Courier. Cars drove slowly past the bridge, taking in the sight and honking horns in solidarity as people chanted “Charleston strong!”
“I’m a member of an A.M.E Church, and I just wanted to come out and show my support for my fellow brothers and sisters who lost their lives,” said 32-year-old Jawanna Goodwin.