‘It’s domestic terrorism:’ Charlotte leader who lost sister in Charleston church shooting sees similarities in Buffalo attack

This past weekend’s supermarket shooting in Buffalo jolted her brother, Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham, into a jarring flashback.
Hate is on the rise and the hurt it creates can be permanent.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 11:23 AM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 11:26 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Cynthia Graham Hurd was one of the nine victims who was shot and killed at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church in 2015 on a night reserved for Bible study, because of the color of her skin.

This past weekend’s supermarket shooting in Buffalo jolted her brother, Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham, into a jarring flashback.

Related: In Buffalo, Biden condemns racism, mourns new victims

“I think about the situation every day because I think about my sister every day, and it never goes away,” Graham said. “What happened in Buffalo were the same circumstances that happened to my sister and eight others.

Graham's sister was one of the nine people shot and killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston almost seven years ago.

Last weekend’s deadly violence now links Charleston, S.C., and Buffalo, N.Y., through race and reality.

Serious lessons from South Carolina’s Lowcountry can be applied to Saturday’s mass shooting.

In Buffalo, like Charleston, the White House will attempt to console a grieving community, as it prepares for days of memorial services, and more pain will come to impacted family members once a trial begins for the accused gunman.

Healing for Graham means having a blunt conversation to stem the tide of racist violence.

“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves as a country where we are. Racism has always been our Achilles heel as a nation. It is still with us today,” he said.

Pain is a given when it comes to coping with what many call the latest national nightmare, but months after the Mother Emanuel shooting Graham went into action to make sure that his sister’s life stood for something positive through a foundation named in her honor.

“We focus on how Cynthia lived versus how she died, and so our goals and objective is to do those things that she loved and reading and literacy educating, empowering the community, all those things that she loved to do,” Graham said.

The Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation, named after the Charleston librarian, has delivered thousands of books to students in North Carolina and South Carolina.

“All you can do is work to keep her memory alive,” Graham said.

He also asks this question as it relates to this latest shooting connected to race.

“Do we respect humanity? I mean can we acknowledge that we still live in a country where people are divided by race and people are willing to kill based on race?” Graham said.

Investigators admit striking similarities between what happened at the supermarket in New York and the Church in S.C.

Convicted killer Dylann Roof came to Charleston from the Columbia area. The New York shooter came to Buffalo from another part of the state.

Roof also wrote a manifesto calling for a race war, and that was also the case of the suspect in Buffalo.

Graham also makes another comparison.

“Dylann Roof went down to Charleston a number of times, driving around the church. This guy did the same thing in Buffalo. This is premeditated murder. It’s calculated. It’s domestic terrorism,” he said.

Graham feels solutions will not come easy or overnight, but he worries about the vision expressed by Roof about the possibility of American racial conflict.

“It says to me that maybe Dylann Roof was right. Maybe the war’s already started,” Graham said.

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