WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting back tears, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott on Wednesday led an emotional Senate salute to the nine churchgoers slain in a Charleston shooting last week and the families who almost immediately forgave the suspect.
"What we saw from the nine families at last Friday's bond hearing was simple, was powerful, and absolutely the best of who we are as Americans," Scott told the Senate, pausing at one point to gather his composure. "We are absolutely united, and we are committed to replacing hate with love, pain with kindness and ill will and hostility with goodwill and comfort."
With most members of the Senate gathered around him, Scott asked for nine seconds of silence to honor those slain. When he was through speaking, senators lined up to hug him.
"We are Charleston. We are South Carolina. And, we are absolutely united," Scott said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., then stood and said the families' response to the alleged gunman was a level of "love and understanding that can only come from some higher authority."
"I don't have that within me," Graham added. "I wish we could muster that kind of love for each other, just a little bit. What would America be like?"
It was a rare display of emotion in the Senate, which unanimously approved a resolution condemning the slayings.
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was charged in the slayings of nine members of a Bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Authorities say the gunman stayed for nearly an hour at the prayer meeting June 17 before opening fire and killing six women and three men.
At Roof's bond hearing, family members said they forgave him and were praying for his soul.
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