President Joe Biden’s recent speech at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, took an unexpected turn as pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted his address, calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“If you really care about the lives lost here,” those protesting Biden’s speech yelled, according to MSNBC, “then you should honor the lives lost and call for a cease-fire in Palestine. Cease-fire now!”
While some defended the president with chants of “Four more years,” others, including the protesters, argued that calling for a ceasefire in Palestine was a necessary act to promote peace.
As Biden addressed the congregation at Mother Emanuel AME Church, known for the tragic 2015 shooting where nine Black churchgoers were murdered during Bible study by a white shooter named Dylann Roof, a trio of pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted the event, USA Today reported. Their calls for a ceasefire in Palestine echoed through the church, challenging the appropriateness of political speeches in a place that holds such a significant historical backdrop.
The interruption came at a time when South Carolina lawmakers debated the absence of a hate crime statute in the state.
Emanuel AME Church has a rich history of protest, originating from its foundation as a response to racial segregation within the Methodist Church. The church was a focal point for Denmark Vesey’s planned slave rebellion in 1822, and it was burned down in the aftermath, MNSBC reported.
Despite its history of radical protest, Mother Emanuel has become a stage for politicians to make symbolic appearances. Both Republicans and Democrats have utilized the church for their political agendas.
President Joe Biden speaks at a solar manufacturing company while promoting his “Bidenomics” rollout, July 6, 2023, in West Columbia, S.C. (AP/Meg Kinnard)