US: Relatives of Charleston massacre victims to be compensated with $ 88 million

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The US government announced on Thursday that it will compensate the relatives of 14 African-Americans who were killed or injured by a young white supremacist in a church in Charleston in 2015 with $ 88 million.

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In return, the victims will withdraw their action against the federal police for “omissions” that allowed the perpetrator, the Dylan Rouf, to buy a weapon while he would not be allowed to do so if his history had been checked.

This massacre “was a horrible crime, instigated by hatred“which caused incomparable pain to the families of the dead and injured,” said Justice Secretary Merrick Garland after the agreement with the victims’ representatives was finalized. “The $ 88 million is one of the largest sums ever paid in U.S. history for a civil rights case,” said their attorney, Bacary Sellers.

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The five people who survived will receive 5 million each. Relatives of the nine dead will receive between 6 and 7.5 million for each victim.

On June 17, 2015, Dylan Rouf, then 21, shot 77 times inside a Methodist church in Charleston, killing nine worshipers. Ruff, motivated by racist hatred, plotted the massacre for six months. In early 2017 he was sentenced to death, without ever expressing remorse or apologizing. His sentence was upheld this summer by an appeals court.

Among his victims was the parish pastor, Clementa Pinkney, a prominent figure in the African-American community and Democratic Party elected to the South Carolina Senate.. His funeral was delivered by then-President Barack Obama.

The pastor’s eldest daughter, Eliana, today thanked the government of Joe Biden for the agreement. “No amount will ever replace my father,” he told reporters. “But it is important for me to see that the government recognizes the existence of racism in this country (…) as well as the problem of firearms and is trying to correct a mistake.”

According to the lawsuit, Dylan Rouf was arrested a few months before the attack for drug possession. Had his history been properly examined, he would not have been allowed to buy the semi-automatic with which he killed his victims.

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