Charleston tragedy’s impact on Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC 4 Utah) – It’s re-igniting the debate on gun violence in America. Today, Local community leaders explained how the tragedy has impacted Utah.

Pastor France Davis and his congregation have been personally impacted by the Charleston shootings as many from his church share a close relationship to the city and people.

“We had a call yesterday from a former member of this church who lives in Charleston, I have a nephew whose son’s best friend was one of those who was killed,” he said.

The attacks in Charleston has not only re-ignited the debate of gun violence but also put the focus on the safety of churches, especially here in Salt Lake.

“It created fear, it created pain, and it created mistrust, where places of worship ideally create trust ,take away pain, and supposed to reduce fear,” said Martin Luther King Jr Commission Chairman Dr. Rob Harter.

In Salt Lake, The NAACP branch has reached out to places of worship, providing guidelines so they can worship in peace.

“That’s one of the things that we’re doing checking around with the churches checking to see if they have surveillance cameras because if you don’t maybe you need to invest in it,” said Salt Lake City Branch President Jeanetta Williams.

A step Pastor Davis will take to secure the safety of his church and those who worship within its walls.

“We’ll be keeping our eyes open. We’ll be looking and perhaps doing some other things as well,” he added.

The tragedy also highlights the importance for a strong Hate Crimes Bill. As community leaders say, sometimes the language can hinder an investigation.

“Can the police really look into this incident and say, ‘is this a hate crime or maybe it’s just on the borderline?’ So, those are the things we have to deal with here and continue to in the state of Utah,” added Williams.

Community leaders agree, to be proactive, what happened in Charleston can’t be approached with fear – rather love, to bring about a positive dialogue.

And unlike the race war 21-year-old, Dylan Roof, had set off to start. A display of unity will be seen throughout Utah as vigils will be held for the victims.

The Calvary Baptist Church held a vigil beginning at 6:00 PM this evening at their church.
The NAACP is planning their own vigil Saturday morning, 06/20/2015, beginning at 11:00 AM at the Salt Lake City Library.


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