CHARLESTON, South Carolina—New Black Panther leader Mailk Zulu Shabazz angrily told his audience at Tuesday’s New Black Panther rally in Charleston, South Carolina, that the magistrate who presided over accused Mother Emanuel Church killer Dylann Roof’s bond hearing was racist.
He went on to tell the all black audience of about 250 people that “your pain and suffering mean nothing to the white judges here in South Carolina.”
Shabazz was upset that accused killer Dylann Roof was given a bond at all given the seriousness of the crime and Roof’s attempt to flee the state. An audience member shouted out that Magistrate James Gosnell, Jr. was “a klansman,” a comment that Shabazz immediately picked up on and repeated.
Shabazz, national president of Black Lawyers for Justice, also claimed that Gosnell “uses the n-word all the time” but immediately gave himself legal cover by saying that he was repeating things others had said.
There is one publicized case where Gosnell is said to have used the n-word, which came to light when he was reprimanded by a South Carolina disciplinary body in 2005, which wrote:
On November 6, 2003, respondent presided over a bond reduction hearing. Respondent represents he knew the defendant, the defendant’s father, and the defendant’s grandfather.
Respondent represents that when the defendant, an African-American, appeared in court for the bond hearing, respondent recalled a statement made to him by a veteran African American sheriff’s deputy that “there are four kinds of people in this world-black people, white people, red necks, and n——s.”
Respondent alleges he repeated this statement to the defendant in an ill-considered effort to encourage him to recognize and change the path he had chosen in life.
That incident, and another event that was part of the reprimand, was reported by CNN and other media outlets the day after Roof’s bond hearing. The other rebuke came for helping a judge arrested for drunk driving get a bond early.
The law required people to stay in jail overnight, but Gosnell drove down to the jail to set a bond for the judge.
Gosnell told officials at the detention center to “make it appear that Judge (Joseph) Mendelsohn’s bond was set at 8:00 a.m.” even though Mendelsohn was set free at 2:30 a.m.
During the hearing—at which member of the various victim’s family expressed Christian forgiveness for accused killer Roof—Magistrate Gosnell said:
Charleston is a very strong community. We have big hearts. We are a very loving community. We are going to reach out to everyone, all victims, and we will touch them. We have victims — nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. We must find it in our heart at some point in time not only to help those that are victims but to also help his family as well.
Shabazz was furious over the Magistrate’s comment but also went further and suggested that racism was behind Gosnell’s statement. Shabazz asked the crowd:
Do you hear what he said? Do you hear how little he regards your pain and your suffering? He quickly moves over you and starts talking to his white brothers and sisters.
Your pain and suffering mean nothing to the white judges here in South Carolina. Don’t mean nothing to them.
According to South Carolina procedure, the magistrate will not preside over Roof’s trial, which will be handled by a judge.
Follow Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.