The Charleston City Council unanimously passed a temporary ordinance Tuesday banning protesters and picketers at funerals. The decision comes on the eve of a memorial service for the first of nine black victims who were killed by a white gunman in last week’s shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The measure prohibits protesters from standing within 300 feet of a church or other building while a memorial service is being held, and for one hour before and after the service. Charleston’s police chief warned city council members earlier this week that passing such an ordinance would be prudent in the wake of a tip protesters planned to attend services for the nine victims.
The police chief would not say what group he aimed to deter with the ordinance, but members of Westboro Baptist Church, who have picketed funerals of soldiers and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, had threatened to show up.
A memorial for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and the slain pastor of Emanuel AME, will be held at the South Carolina Capitol, marking the first memorial service since last week’s shootings. President Obama will deliver a eulogy at Pinckney’s funeral at 11 a.m. Friday at the College of Charleston. Two viewings are also scheduled for Thursday, WCBD, Mount Pleasant, reported: the first in the morning at St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ridgeland and the second in the evening at Emanuel AME.
Other victims will be memorialized later in the week amid a somber procession of viewings and funerals. While these services will bring a ceremonial closure to the massacre, they will offer little solace to the many black residents who still lament the state of racial tension in the U.S., especially in the South.
In addition to Pinckney, several victims will be honored and buried at Emanuel AME. Cynthia Hurd, a librarian for 31 years at the Charleston County Public Library, will be buried there Saturday at 11 a.m. in the church cemetery. All 16 branches of the library will be closed so staff may attend. A funeral for Tywanza Sanders, 26, and another for Susie Jackson, 87, will follow shortly after at 2 p.m. The Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor will be laid to rest at the church Sunday.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a popular teacher and track coach at Goose Creek High School, will be remembered in services on Thursday at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. Ethel Lance, a mother of three who had lost a daughter to cancer, will be honored in a visitation Wednesday and funeral Thursday at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston.