CHARLESTON, South Carolina — In an angry call to arms just a block away from the site of the Charleston massacre, former New Black Panther Party chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz told a group of about 200 African American Charlestonians that they need to “finish the mission” of killing “slave masters” and their families.
He made the incendiary comments at the Save the Black Church rally held Tuesday night in Marian Square, close to the Mother Emanuel AME Church, where white racist Dylann Roof allegedly murdered nine black churchgoers.
Shabazz, who played a prominent role in the Baltimore and Ferguson uprisings, heads a group called Black Lawyers for Justice and boasts a long association with the controversial New Black Panther Party.
Shabazz’s comments began with the story of Denmark Vesey, who planned an unsuccessful slave revolt and helped found the Mother Emanuel Church.
The recent massacre at the church happened on the anniversary of the foiling of the revolt. As USA Today explained in an article on Vesey’s 1822 planned revolt, the events had important historic significance for the church:
Vesey reportedly preached in meetings in his home, telling members of the congregation that they were the New Israelites and that God would punish their enslavers with death.
The rebellion plan was to “seize Charleston’s arsenals and guard houses, kill the Governor, set fire to the city, and kill every white man they saw,” according to PBS.
Vesey and his conspirators planned the uprising for July 14, Bastille Day, but in early June some nervous slaves leaked the information to their owners. Vesey was arrested before the plot could be carried out.
As a result, the church was investigated and the building was burned down. Thirty-five people, including Vesey, were hanged in the aftermath.
In his speech, Malik Zulu Shabazz told the story of Vesey to the crowd and discussed Vesey’s scheme. “Denmark Vesey had a plan to kill all the slave masters in the state,” Shabazz proclaimed. “Denmark Vesey had a plan to kill every last one of them and kill all of their goddamn families.”
Shabazz, whose remarks elicited applause, turned to current events, telling the audience: “We’re out of Denmark Veseys. And we need some new Demark Veseys today.”
Referring to the statements of Christian forgiveness made by many black leaders from Charleston, Shabazz delivered a stinging rebuke. “That which we saw in that church does not represent the spirit of Denmark Vesey,” he maintained. “They have betrayed Denmark Vesey.”
Later in the speech, Shabazz appeared to urge the crowd to finish the “mission” he had referred to earlier: killing white people in an uprising. “We got to complete what Denmark didn’t finish,” he insisted. “Denmark didn’t finish his mission.”