Photos Of The Charleston Bridge To Peace Event Show Thousands In A Heartwarming Display Of Hope
As Charleston, South Carolina, mourns the nine people killed in a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last Wednesday, photos of the Charleston "Bridge to Peace" event showed the community coming together Sunday. Thousands joined hands and walked two and a half miles across the Ravenel Bridge, which spans the Cooper River and connects Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston. The event was organized by community members in Charleston and Mount Pleasant and was announced via social media. The community has been reeling since 21-year-old suspected gunman Dylann Roof allegedly opened fire on a Bible study group at the church, killing the nine victims. Authorities said Roof's motivation for the shooting was to "start a race war." Federal investigators are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
But on Sunday night, the community came together in a show of love. The Post and Courier estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 people came to join hands in the peace chain across the bridge at sunset, creating a massive sea of people, black and white, young and old, to show solidarity and support for the nine shooting victims. Some estimates put the total turnout for the event closer to 20,000 people. Even Charleston native Stephen Colbert attended the event, and tweeted a video.
There were many scenes of hope during the vigil, and at the peak of the event, organizers called for a nine-minute "moment" of silence, one minute for each person killed in the shooting.
Police officers from Mt. Pleasant stood watch over the marchers as the sun began to set on what also happened to be Father's Day. Some marchers started on the Charleston side of the bridge, others on the Mount Pleasant side, until they met in the middle and joined hands.
Several people carried American flags across the bridge, and boats in the river below stopped and honked their horns in support of the marchers.
Organizer Dorsey Fairbairn told The Post and Courier she came up with the idea as a way to show the rest of the world what Charleston is all about. "The people raised in Charleston are not raised knowing hate — they’re raised in love, and that was obvious tonight," she said.
Another marcher, Ida Fresselli of Charleston told WCIV that she made it to the top of the bridge in time to hear the nine minutes of silence for the victims. She came to the walk alone because she didn't want to slow her friends down. "I never thought I would make it," she said. "I did it!"