On the surface, the Department of Justice’s $88 million settlement with the surviving family members of the nine people killed in the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, is historic in many ways. Not only is it one of the largest settlements in a civil rights case in U.S. history, but it could help offer closure to one of the most violent attacks by a white supremacist.
However, if you dig just a bit deeper, the number 88 carries a special significance, especially as it relates to this case, and signaled the government’s very public rebuke of white supremacy and the hateful violence inspired by the racist movement.
Bakari Sellers, a civil rights attorney representing the 14 plaintiffs who sued the federal government, told South Carolina news outlet the State that the number 88 is near and dear to white supremacists’ cold and racist hearts. He pointed out that H — the 8th letter of the alphabet — is an offhand reference to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, a revered figure among white supremacists for slaughtering Jews during the Holocaust, which, obviously, also starts with the letter H.
It gets deeper than that, though.
He also reminded the State that Dylann Roof — the white supremacist who attended bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church before launching his hate-filled killing spree on that fateful day in June of 2015 in hopes of sparking a “race war” — was wearing shoes with the number 88 on them during his unprovoked attack that murdered nine innocent souls.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-hate organization, has referred to the number 88 as a numerical hate symbol.
“One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis,” the ADL says on its website. “One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screenname or e-mail address. It is even sometimes used as a greeting or sign-off (particularly in messages on social networking websites).”
The ADL added: “The number is frequently combined with another white supremacist numeric code, 14 (shorthand for the so-called “14 Words” slogan: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children’) in the form of 1488, 14/88, 14-88, or 8814.”
Because of that, Sellers told the State that the $88 million figure provides an extra swipe at “the white supremacists and racists in this country by saying we are taking this tragedy that they tried to tear this country apart with and build Black communities and generational wealth.”
Settlements for those who were murdered are anywhere from $6 million to $7.5 million. Survivors will receive $5 million each.
On June 17, 2015, Roof, an avowed white supremacist, fired 77 shots during an evening bible study at Emanuel AME Church. He sat in the sanctuary with the worshippers for about 45 minutes and opened fire during the final prayer while the parishioners’ eyes were closed. Roof told prosecutors that he chose the church to implement his heinous crime because it was historically Black. He later told FBI agents that his intentions were to revive segregation or start a race war. Roof was ultimately convicted of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes.
Three people survived the massacre, including Malana Pinckney, who was just 6-years-old when Roof gunned down her father, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Malana’s older sister Eliana said on Thursday after the $88 million settlement was announced that it has been hard for her and her sister growing up without her dad around.
“That is something that is so hard to grasp with and so hard to understand, and so hard to grow from. But it’s so important that I’ve had a community behind me who has helped get to the place that I am now,” Eliana Pinckney said. “No amount of compensation will ever replace my father’s life.”
Violent White Folks Who Were Taken Into Custody With Loving Care By Police
1. Miami airport violence
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Last night at Miami Int’l Airport. Another FL anti-masker covidiot. (Strong language). pic.twitter.com/kO18bBFPTb— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 28, 2021
2. Floyd Ray Roseberry
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NEW: “The revolution is on. It’s here… I’m ready to die for the cause.”— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 19, 2021
Here’s video from the man who said he’s got a bomb outside the Capitol.
Follow @huffpost and @sara_bee for more as the situation develops. pic.twitter.com/aRx1hES7Vl
3. Jeffrey Nicholas
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Jeffrey Nicholas, a white man shot and killed two police officers and injured a city worker in Texas before he was able to be safely apprehended without law enforcement resorting to using lethal force.https://t.co/sLhFwxZHgg pic.twitter.com/yWd0XUg7Og— NewsOne (@newsone) May 13, 2021
4. Robert Aaron Long, suspect in Asian massage parlor killing spree in GASource:Crisp County Sheriff's Office 4 of 32
5. Duke Webb, bowling alley gunman in Rockford, IllinoisSource:Winnebago County Sheriff's Office 5 of 32
6. Car Drives Into Group Of Protesters In New YorkSource:Getty 6 of 32
7. Brad Parscale, demoted former Trump campaign managerSource:Getty 7 of 32
8. Brett HankisonSource:Shelby County Sheriff's Department 8 of 32
9. Thomas Kinworthy accused of killing Black cop, shooting another9 of 32
10. Dalton Potter allegedly shot a cop and another man
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BLUE ALERT issued for Dalton Potter, age 29. Potter is suspected of shooting a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy overnight. Last known to be on foot on Interstate 75 at the Whitfield/Gordon County line. Potter is considered armed and dangerous. Call 911. #BlueAlert pic.twitter.com/Vdyl8ReGaW— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) September 7, 2020
11. White suspect physically attacking officer
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Interesting.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) August 30, 2020
Thinking about Jacob Blake right now. Sure seems like white people get the benefit of the doubt when engaged with the police... pic.twitter.com/kLh9iCJepp
12. Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha Jacob Blake shooterSource:Twitter 12 of 32
13. White supremacist who beat a woman on video
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Nicholas Arnold Schock, 36, of Wauchula was arrested and charged with battery and disturbing the peace and bail was set at $620. He remains at the Sarasota County Jail. pic.twitter.com/ggDBjAxCN1— Carlos R. Munoz 📰 (@ReadCarlos) August 2, 2020
14. West Hollywood shooter14 of 32
15. Gregory and Travis McMichaelsSource:Glynn County Sheriff's Office 15 of 32
16. Anthony J. Trifiletti, shot an unarmed Black manSource:Saint Paul Police Department 16 of 32
17. Matthew Bernard, Killed Three People17 of 32
18.18 of 32
19. Mark Boisey19 of 32
20. Lorne BrownSource:NBC Miami 20 of 32
21. Patrick Crusius, El Paso Mall Mass Shooting Suspect
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Patrick Crusius allegedly wrote a racist manifesto before killing at least 18 people in Saturday's shooting at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso. The suspect, a white male, was safely taken into custody.— NewsOne (@newsone) August 3, 2019
This is America. #Walmartshooting #ElPasoShootinghttps://t.co/cjYzJZsCXn
22. Aaron DeanSource:Tarrant County Jail 22 of 32
23. Amber Guyger23 of 32
24. James Holmes
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Today on #CrimeStories: Prosecutors have released video of #Aurora shooter #JamesHolmes’ interviews w/ a psychiatrist. Tune in now on @SiriusXM ch. 111 for insight on the evaluation of his sanity in the #Colorado theater massacre. #NancyGrace #CrimeAlert #CrimeOnline #MassKiller pic.twitter.com/DKRD2s0ay8— Crime Online (@crimeonlinenews) February 26, 2019
25. Michael Mattioli25 of 32
26. Dylann RoofSource:Getty 26 of 32
27. Matthew Sloan Punched And Spit On Police...
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Again, if Matthew Sloan was a Black man this would be a much different story. https://t.co/K4cwb6SQ38— NewsOne (@newsone) July 12, 2019
28. Assaulted Police And Even Chased Them...
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This man never complied— Gambling Refund 💵™ (@OffshoreRefund) May 14, 2019
This man actually hit police multiple times
This man chased police and made them fear for safety
This man was not killed!
Pamela Turner was murdered and pregnant, she was never given the same opportunity. WHY? @KingJamespic.twitter.com/DfzdICbOy8
29. Shot At Police At Trump Tower...29 of 32
30. Shot At Police At Walmart -- And Was Let Go...30 of 32
31. Man Holds Black Man At Gunpoint And He Is Calmly Arrested...
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Downtown CHARLOTTESVILLE right now. F*ing white trash has a black man submitted first with a knife around his neck, then makes him kneel still threatening to stab him.— ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕓𝕚𝕡𝕠𝕝𝕒𝕣 𝕥𝕠𝕕𝕒𝕪 (@tomorrowtambien) December 28, 2018
Please, Twitter do your thing in the name of justice #resist @washingtonpost @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/klg7g5ac22