Tampa Bay residents show solidarity with Charleston

Civil rights leaders are in mourning and on edge in the wake of the racially motivated mass shooting that killed nine, including a pastor, at a Bible study in Charleston, SC. 

"Today is a heavy day," Rev. David Green, senior pastor at Allen Temple AME Church in Tampa, told the Tampa Bay Times. "It's a sad day for me, it's a sad day for that church and it's a sad day for our denomination."

Like Charleston, Tampa Bay is home to several hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and racial tensions are tangible.

An open house is planned for 7 p.m. Friday at Greater Mt. Zion AME on 16th St. S. in St. Petersburg.

Activists with the Fight for 15, Bay Area Activist Coalition and Tampa Bay Dream Defenders are hosting a vigil Saturday night at 8 at Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa.

"[Slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney] was a product of, and champion for, the working class Black community in Charleston," reads a statement on the Facebook invitation. "He stood with us and we pray for him and all victims of this hate crime. The struggle continues."

Other groups are calling on political leadership to be tougher on guns and more culturally sensitive.

"Today we issue two calls to action," Susan Smith, head of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, said in a media release." We are asking state legislatures throughout the country to pass sensible gun laws to prevent unstable people from obtaining weapons; and we call on the South Carolina Legislature to remove the Confederate flag, a symbol of racism, from the Capitol grounds."

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