Crime & Justice

In South LA, anger and sadness in wake of Charleston shootings

Church members gather at the first Sunday service after the shooting massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. The First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South L.A. dedicated much of the service to remembering those who died.
Church members gather at the first Sunday service after the shooting massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. The First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South L.A. dedicated much of the service to remembering those who died.
Mary Plummer/KPCC

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Los Angeles members of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church cried out for change Sunday during an emotional morning of services.

More than 200 people gathered in South Los Angeles for an 8 a.m. service, the first Sunday ceremony since Dylann Roof allegedly opened fire at an A.M.E church in Charleston, South Carolina killing nine people.

"Gun control must be enacted in this nation," Pastor J. Edgar Boyd said during the service.

RELATED: Charleston massacre felt here in Southern California

Boyd also gave a rousing call to end the public display of confederate flags, which brought many churchgoers to their feet shouting support.

A confederate flag stands outside the South Carolina state capitol. On Sunday, Charleston's mayor joined the call for it to be taken down and sent to a museum.

"So many people are just really disgusted that these things are happening much too frequently,” Inglewood resident Marva Harris said outside the First AME in South Los Angeles. She teared up. “We don’t know what to tell our young people."

The service came a day after news emerged about a website allegedly connected to Roof. Among its contents: a 2,500 word essay and pictures of Roof holding a burned American flag.

Elijah Chin, of Culver City, said one thing on his mind Sunday was how law enforcement would have handled the incident if Roof, who is white, instead had darker skin.

"He probably definitely would have ended up dead on site," Chin said. "I feel as though it would be totally, a whole different conversation right now. I don't even think I would be getting interviewed."

Chin said he thinks the climate in the black community is becoming too tense.

He said he knows people are sad and angry about recent events and wishes those voices could be heard and channeled toward solutions.

"It's just very heartbreaking to see that this is really happening," Chin said. "It was just in my heart and my spirit to really come and show support and love."

During the service, Boyd encouraged forgiveness.

"We must love in spite of the difficulties that we face," he said.