RELIGION

The Latest on Charleston shooting: Mourners file past casket of Sen. Pinckney at Statehouse

  • A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard carries Sen. Clementa Pinckney's casket to the Statehouse, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney's open coffin was being put on display under the dome where he served the state for nearly 20 years. Pinckney was one of those killed in a mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard carries Sen. Clementa Pinckney's casket to the Statehouse, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney's open coffin was being put on display under the dome where he served the state for nearly 20 years. Pinckney was one of those killed in a mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)  (The Associated Press)

  • State workers take down a Confederate national flag on the grounds of the state Capitol, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered Confederate flags taken down from a monument at the state Capitol. (AP Photo/Martin Swant)

    State workers take down a Confederate national flag on the grounds of the state Capitol, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered Confederate flags taken down from a monument at the state Capitol. (AP Photo/Martin Swant)  (The Associated Press)

  • A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard carries Sen. Clementa Pinckney's casket to the  Statehouse, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney's open coffin was being put on display under the dome where he served the state for nearly 20 years. Pinckney was one of those killed in a mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

    A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard carries Sen. Clementa Pinckney's casket to the Statehouse, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney's open coffin was being put on display under the dome where he served the state for nearly 20 years. Pinckney was one of those killed in a mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)  (The Associated Press)

1:15 p.m.

Mourners are walking past the open casket of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney at the South Carolina Statehouse.

Pinckney is dressed in a dark suit and red tie. The mourners were greeted Wednesday by at least half a dozen of his colleagues and his widow and two young daughters.

Beside the casket, there's a portrait of Pinckney at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, where he was the lead pastor and where he was killed along with eight parishioners last week. On the other side of the casket, there's a painting of his smiling face and the Statehouse.

Hundreds of people were waiting in line when the doors opened Wednesday.

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1:10 p.m.

Hundreds of people were in line among the trees along the sidewalks on the Statehouse grounds as the viewing for slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney began.

Among those in line Wednesday, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which covers all of South Carolina, led a group of about half a dozen priests.

"This is an opportunity for all to come and be a part of this whole process of healing," Guglielmone said of participating in the viewing. The bishop says he has been in Charleston for more than six years and knew the Rev. Pinckney from various interfaith gatherings. Pinckney was pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, where he was killed along with eight parishioners last week.

Guglielmone said he has asked his churches to participate in a series of prayers for the souls of those who died. He hopes "all of us begin this healing that is needed because it has affected everyone."

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12:55 p.m.

Four Confederate flags have been removed from the grounds of the Alabama Capitol at the order of Republican Gov. Robert Bentley.

They came down Wednesday. Bentley says he issued the order late Tuesday after ensuring he had the authority. He says it's important to honor history but that it can be done without flying the flag on Capitol grounds.

Bentley calls the Confederate battle flag a distraction and compares it to the swastika.

He says: "Unfortunately, it's like the swastika — some people have adopted that as part of their hate-filled groups."

After the flags' removal, two men identifying themselves as members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans arrived to protest. When a group of black men, including the chief of staff for an Alabama Democrat who planned to introduce a resolution calling for the flags' removal, came to see that the flags had been removed, they spoke and shook hands with the flag supporters.

Calls to remove Confederate symbols reignited after the massacre of nine people at a black church in South Carolina last week. The white suspect posed in photos displaying Confederate flags.

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12:30 p.m.

Representatives of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence brought several boxes holding about 10,000 messages of support from people around the country to the historic Charleston church were the pastor and eight parishioners were slain.

Dan Gross, the Brady Campaign president, said it had received messages from all 50 states. He gave brief remarks along with state Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston and the state's poet laureate Marjory Wentworth, who read a poem she'd written for the victims.

A note from Chicago says: "My heart breaks for your loss."

One from Columbia, South Carolina, says: "With a heart filled with grief, I send you my love, hugs and sincerest sympathy."

Throughout the morning, several dozen people were stopping by the front of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where people have placed bouquets, wreaths and other floral arrangements.

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12:25 p.m.

St. Louis police are investigating after vandals targeted a century-old Confederate memorial, spray-painting the words "Black Lives Matter" on the statue.

Police were called just before 8 a.m. Wednesday after a resident saw the damage on the 32-foot statue in Forest Park. Workers were cleaning the memorial. No arrests have been made.

The Confederate flag and other Confederate symbols have come under renewed scrutiny in the week since a gunman killed nine at a black Charleston, South Carolina, church. A white man who has posed with the flag is charged.

In April, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay directed a staff member to consider the future of the memorial. A report is expected by summer's end.

The phrase "Black Lives Matter" took root in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, in August, after 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr., who was black and unarmed, was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was not criminally charged.

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12:20 p.m.

Four former South Carolina governors issued a statement Wednesday applauding Gov. Nikki Haley's call to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds.

The joint statement was signed by Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, Dick Riley, David Beasley and Jim Hodges.

It reads, "Last week's tragic events at Mother Emanuel AME Church have reminded us of the important bond we share as South Carolina citizens. We should fly only the United States and South Carolina flags on our Statehouse grounds — flags that represent us all."

Beasley lost his bid for re-election in 1998 after advocating for its removal. He was at the Statehouse on Tuesday to encourage his former colleagues to support Haley's position.

He said he was startled by how many legislators have switched positions in a matter of days.

He says: "Twenty years ago, they differed with me on this issue."

Hollings, who went on to be a U.S. senator from 1966 to 2004, was governor when the Confederate flag was hoisted on top of the Statehouse dome. He called for it to come down in 2000, when legislators passed the compromise that moved a smaller, square version to a Confederate monument out front.

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12:10 p.m.

A horse-drawn caisson carrying the body of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney is arriving at the South Carolina Statehouse so that people can pay their respects to him.

The caisson passed directly by the Confederate flag on a pole on the Statehouse grounds.

Pinckney, who was also a pastor at the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was one of nine people killed in an attack at the church a week ago.

The caisson is flanked by two police cars with lights on.

About 100 people stood in line Wednesday along the side of the Statehouse near the Confederate flag.

Gloria Wingard, 66, of Columbia, had been there since 9:30 a.m.

"I'm here to honor him and the things that he'd done," she said of Pinckney.

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11:30 a.m.

Workers are preparing the South Carolina Statehouse for the body of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney to lie under the dome in the place he served for nearly 20 years.

A large, black drape was placed Wednesday over the big window of the second-floor lobby where Pinckney's coffin will be placed, blocking the view of the Confederate flag flying on a pole outside.

Pinckney's head will be near the back of a statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun, who forcefully suggested states should be able to decide not to follow federal laws they did not like in the 1820s and 1830s. Mourners will file past his feet. American and South Carolina flags are on poles near the statue.

Workers are placing flowers as well as ropes to help line up the crowd.

The last person to lie under the dome was former Gov. Carroll Campbell in December 2005. Pinckney will be the first African-American given the honor at least since Reconstruction.

Public viewing starts at 1 p.m. Wednesday after a horse-drawn caisson brings Pinckney's body to the capitol. It ends at 5 p.m.

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11:25 a.m.

Democrats say Congress should do better than vanquishing symbols of racism to fight discrimination, and they are moving forward with a plan targeting voting discrimination.

A group of House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation to restore a requirement that some states get federal approval for voting procedure changes. Two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down the provision and, supporters of the policy say, set progress back.

The move comes in the wake of the deaths of nine in a Charleston, South Carolina, black church. The massacre reignited a debate over the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Old South.

Democratic Rep. Terry Sewell of Alabama says: "It isn't enough that we have symbolic moments. We should not be able to choose our voters."

The provision would require that any state with more than 15 voting rights violations since 1990 be subject to federal permission for any change in voting procedure or law. Sewell says that would mean 13 states right away would be subject to preclearance, until they go a full decade without a violation.

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11:15 a.m.

One of Mississippi's Republican U.S. senators says the Confederate battle emblem should be removed from the state flag because it offends many people and gives a false impression of the state.

Sen. Roger Wicker's statement Wednesday makes him the second top-tier Republican elected official calling for Mississippi to change the flag it has used since Reconstruction. He says it "should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying."

The state House speaker, Philip Gunn, said Monday that as a Christian, he believes the flag has become offensive.

Mississippi voters decided in 2001 to keep the flag. The massacre of nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, restarted debate about the Old South. The man charged in the slayings had posed in photos with the Confederate battle flag.

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11:10 a.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has ordered Confederate flags taken down from the grounds of the state Capitol.

It's the latest move to banish the divisive banner from state capitals, store shelves and monuments.

The Republican governor issued the order Wednesday morning, one week after police say a white man killed nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina in a racially motived attack. Since the mass shooting, there has been a groundswell of calls to remove the flag.

For the past two decades, Alabama has displayed four Confederate flags around a large monument to Confederate soldiers outside the Alabama Capitol. On Wednesday, they had all come down.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis tells The Associated Press that Bentley did not want the presence of the Confederate symbols to be "a distraction." She said there was no law prohibiting the removal of the flags by executive order.

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10:45 a.m.

A law enforcement official has confirmed to The Associated Press that investigators believe the suspect in the Charleston church massacre purchased the gun that was used in the crime at a store called Shooter's Choice in West Columbia, South Carolina.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss by name the details of a pending investigation.

The officials says Dylann Roof purchased the weapon at the South Carolina store.

The store has an indoor firing range and offers concealed weapons classes. On Wednesday, a man behind the store's counter said it doesn't give out information about customers.

Roof is charged with nine counts of murder in the massacre.

-- Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.

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10:40 a.m.

Dash-cam video has been released of the arrest of the white man accused of opening fire inside a black church in Charleston, killing nine people.

The nearly five minute video shows officers in Shelby, North Carolina, walking up to the car and then pulling 21-year-old Dylann Roof out of it. He doesn't resist. Roof is handcuffed and an officer searches him.

The shooting happened on the night of June 17. Roof was arrested the following day in Shelby.

The video also shows officers going through the trunk and when they walk away, they high five.

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9:35 a.m.

An Episcopal Cathedral across from the South Carolina Statehouse is opening its doors for prayer and reflection during the time state Sen. Clementa Pinckney's casket is on view to the public.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral also plans to hold a noon prayer service and ring its bells each hour until 5 p.m.

The church announced it would hold the special service with the assistance of the Rev. Calvin Griffin from St. Luke's Episcopal Church, which is the Cathedral's predominantly African-American neighbor parish.

According to South Carolina historian Walter Edgar, the ties between Trinity and the state government go back to August of 1812.

The eleven founding members of the congregation met in the Senate Chamber of the Old State House to form the nucleus of the Episcopal faithful, which would later become Trinity Church of Columbia.