Protesters burn a paper Confederate flag during a rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
It didn't take long after Dylann Storm Roof's alleged murder of nine black church congregants last week in Charleston and the emergence of Roof's website with many Confederate-related images for people in South Carolina to call for the removal of the Confederate flag from state Capitol grounds—or for others to defend its presence there. Gov. Nikki Haley's announcement Monday that she supported taking down the flag led to a flurry of other public statements on the controversial symbol by GOP presidential hopefuls, state politicians, and even retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, which all announced that they would remove Confederate-flag merchandise from their inventory.
Here, in one map, is a compilation of the public statements and actions in each state about Confederate symbols that have occurred since the tragedy in Charleston.
For years, the news media has been battling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for access to a host of ostensibly public records. In February, Mother Jones' Molly Redden reported that Christie's administration was fighting 23 open-records requests in court, on everything from Bridgegate to Christie's out-of-state travel and contracts awarded in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. These fights over records aren't just minor squabbles between pesky reporters and a prickly governor—they are costing New Jersey taxpayers serious money. As of September 2014, the Christie administration had shelled out $441,000 reimbursing lawyers for plaintiffs who successfully sued for records (and that doesn't include other costs, such as government lawyers' time).
Even when the Christie administration loses, it doesn't go down without a fight. The New Jersey Watchdog, an independent investigative reporting outlet, reported Monday that the Christie administration is challenging a court's order to release a comprehensive media list that was created by the governor's communications office. The communications office is staffed by 16 people who earned more than $1.3 million in taxpayer-funded salaries last year.
The list, requested by the New Jersey Watchdog, includes "contact information for roughly 2,500 reporters, producers and editors, subdivided into categories, which enables Christie and his staff to selectively target efforts to promote their political ambitions," according to the outlet. The Christie administration is arguing that providing the list would give the New Jersey Watchdog an unfair competitive advantage over other media outlets and is refusing to release it under a law that allows the government to withhold records that include trade secrets or proprietary information of government contractors.
"New Jersey Watchdog does not bid on government contracts," Mark Lagerkvist, the site's reporter and editor, wrote Monday. "It is a non-profit investigative news site that freely shares its content with other news outlets.… [The governor's argument] suggests the governor has a proprietary, or ownership interest in the list. But the governor's office is not a private business. And while the media list may be a valuable asset for his political future, it is not Christie’s property."
Lagerkvist told Mother Jones that his attorney will file a response to the administration's challenge and the judge in the case will likely schedule a hearing to decide the matter.
The killing of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston Wednesday night has reignited the conversation about access to guns in the US, drawing the predictable refrain that this wouldn't have happened had the people at the Bible study been armed. A board member of the National Rifle Association went so far as to blame one of the victims for the shooting because of his political position on concealed-carry laws. So when President Obama talked about Charleston and how easy it was for someone like 21-year-old Dylann Roof to get a gun, the critics pushed back.
One of them was former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who told Newsmax that the massacre, which he called an "accident," might have had more to do with drugs than with guns. Watch:
After Dylann Storm Roof was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly shooting nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Ken Mathews, an attorney who has been representing Roof in an ongoing drug-possession case, was, he says, "very shocked" to hear about what Roof had allegedly done. He tells Mother Jones, "The dealings I had with him, he was just a normal kid."
Mathews, a Columbia, South Carolina, attorney, notes that so far in the drug case he has had "very limited dealings" with Roof. He says he saw "nothing that would indicate that [Roof] would take this type of action."
The local police have called the shooting a hate crime. Mathews says he has seen no signs that Roof harbored any racial animus: "I had no inkling of anything like that in the dealings I had with him."
Mathews has known the Roof family for years, dating back to a custody dispute between Dylann's father Ben and mother Amy over visitation rights concerning Dylann. Mathews says he spoke to Dylann's father this morning, and "it's very, very difficult."
Mathews became Roof's lawyer after Roof was arrested in March at the Columbiana Centre, a mall in Columbia, and charged with possession of suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate withdrawals. Mathews says Roof had gone into some stores and "asked people some questions, which made some people uncomfortable," including what time the stores closed. Someone at one of the stores contacted the authorities. Roof was stopped and searched, according to Mathews, and the police found he was carrying suboxone and arrested him. Roof was also given a trespassing warning, which he violated a couple of weeks later, Mathews notes, and Roof was subsequently cited for trespassing.
Here's what else we know about Roof:
Roof, 21, was arrested midday Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina, about a three and a half-hour drive from the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The shooting of nine black churchgoers happened at about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Charleston police chief Greg Mullen said he believed the shooting to be a "hate crime."
Roof's uncle told Reuters that Roof was introverted and soft-spoken.
The uncle also said Roof's father had recently given him a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present. "I don't have any words for it. Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming," he said.
Roof is from Lexington, South Carolina, and attended White Knoll High School, which a high school friend said had a mix of black and white students.