Dylann Roof with a Confederate flag, still associated with white supremacy
A website has surfaced with a racist manifesto and a series of photographs that appear to show Dylann Roof, the suspect in Wednesday's Charleston church massacre, posing with a handgun and standing in front of a Confederate military museum and a plantation house.
Reuters could not immediately confirm who created the website or the authenticity of the photographs posted on it.
Roof, a 21-year old white man, was arrested on Thursday and charged with the murders of nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in downtown Charleston. Authorities say he spent an hour in Bible study with parishioners at the historically black church before opening fire on them on Wednesday evening.
"We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies, exaggerations and myths," the author writes in the text of the site.
The author provides a cryptic "explanation," for action, saying, "I have no choice ... I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country.
The website surfaced as mourners arrived in Charleston from around the United States on Saturday to pay their respects to the nine people killed in the attack. Services were planned throughout the day ahead of a rally in South Carolina's state capital, Columbia, later in the evening.
Charleston was an important port city during the American Civil War in the 1860's, pitting the breakaway Confederate states against the Union Army under the control of the U.S. federal government.
The main issue dividing the country was slavery, with the rebel Southern states of the Confederacy insisting on their right to decide for themselves whether to allow a practice that was seen as vital to their plantation economy.
CROWDS GATHER OUTSIDE CHURCH
Crowds began to gather at the Emanuel African Methodist Church early on Saturday. At the memorial site in front of the church, the oldest African-American congregation in the southern United States, flowers were laid six feet (two meters) deep in places.
Placards and signs offered words of solace and prayer but also frustration at another act of gun violence.
A black T-shirt hung on the church gate had white lettering that read: "Do you believe us now? Change must come."
Monte Talmadge, a 63-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, drove nearly 300 miles (480 km) overnight from Raleigh, North Carolina, and sat in a camping chair across the street from the church.
"There was an overwhelming feeling that made me drive here," he said. "A church is a place of worship, not a place for killing. Our society has reached a place of total deprecation."
The bloodshed in Charleston is the latest in a series of fatal mass shootings in the United States. The violence has renewed a national debate between advocates of tighter controls on gun possession and supporters of unfettered access to firearms, which they assert is constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment.
Residents from across the Charleston area were expected to gather in the early evening on the Ravanel Bridge, one of Charleston's main thoroughfares, connecting the city with Mount Pleasant across the Cooper River. Local organizers hoped some 3,000 people would join hands along the bridge's footpath.
A march was also planned for Saturday evening, starting at Wragg Square and ending at the Emanuel AME church a few blocks away. Participants were encouraged to bring flowers to lay at the church, according to a flyer headed "March for Black Lives".
The first demonstration since the shooting was scheduled for 6 p.m. in Columbia. Activists were calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state house because of what some people see as its racist associations.