Healing division, insults to Mother Emanuel victims cited in Steve Bannon protests

Bannon protests (WCIV)

At times, it felt like two rallies. The crowd of protesters opposing Steve Bannon’s visit to speak at the Citadel Republican Society's Patriot Dinner was itself split.

There were people from all walks of life. Thomas Meservey, a aeteran, said this is one of the freedoms he fought for.

“If we don’t come out and exercise those rights, especially our first amendment, they will be trampled on,” Messervey said.

He thinks political parties have become too divisive.

“Republicans and Democrats used to be able to sit down after everything was said and done, and have a good dinner and talk and laugh, and that’s not happening anymore,” Messervey said.

At times, the conversations were tense.

“I’m not a Bannon person, I’m a free speech person,” one man said.

Bannon spoke at the Holliday Alumni Center, just miles away from Mother Emanuel AME.

Rep. Wendell Gilliard said Bannon being invited to speak is a sign of disrespect.

“That’s an insult to Mother Emanuel, that’s an insult to Walter Scott, that’s an insult to Americans, that’s an insult to all you women out there,” Gilliard said.

As the rally continued—a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Some referencing the nine victims killed inside of the church.

The Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton questioned how the victims would view the rally.

“I don’t know how the individuals who died at Mother Emanuel would view these types of protest and rallies,” said Middleton.

Middleton believes it's time to unite as a people in peace.

“Their lives were grounded in peace and we too should be seeking peace in our society, and using the energies that we are captivating in this time in our history for a greater common purpose -- to build bridges that begin to unite and draw people together as opposed to further polarizing and dividing us,” Middleton said.

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