An American flag is being sent to the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina “to show Tucson’s support and compassion for Charleston” after a mass shooting killed nine church worshippers last month.
Tucson police Officer Charles Foley presented the flag Friday in a display case to Joann Thompson, a spiritual leader of the local Prince Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 602 S. Stone Ave.
In turn, Thompson, will take the flag and present it to members of the Emanuel AME Church during a religious international conference in Charleston in three weeks.
“We are sharing their sorrow and are also healing with them,” Thompson said of the shooting spree June 17 that killed nine who were attending a Bible study session inside the historic black church.
Authorities arrested Dylann Storm Roof who faces nine counts of murder in the case. Roof, 21, created a website that shows him waving the Confederate flag, and the site has references about white supremacy, according to a New York Times article.
Tucson’s Flags for the Flagless is a nonprofit organization founded by TPD Officers Foley and Bradley Clark. Its mission is to raise Old Glory on barren flagpoles in the city with the community’s support. It also gives flags to schools.
“I am just blessed that Brad and Charley even approached us about doing something tangible to show we are with Charleston and are going through the sorrow and healing process with them,” Thompson said.
Foley said Charleston’s tragedy mirrors pain shared by the Tucson community over the Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The assassination attempt on Giffords occurred when she was meeting with constituents at a northwest-side shopping center.
Old Glory represents “a united country under one flag” and the flag is “to show Tucson’s support and compassion for Charleston,” said Foley. The flag is in a walnut display case, and the case’s inscription in part reads: “Charleston we stand with you. Cities joined by tragedy, our future joined by hope and goodwill.”
Thompson also mentioned that it was a “great show of support” when religious leaders of all faiths, community leaders and Tucsonans from all walks of life attended a vigil and Sunday service at Prince Chapel AME Church after the slayings.
“When one hurts, we all hurt,” said Thompson.
She said she is “honored to take a flag from Tucson to South Carolina on behalf of the community and Flags for the Flagless.”