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John Hickenlooper To Meet Charleston Church Shooting Survivors

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — During a campaign trip to South Carolina, Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper is meeting with church members who survived a racist massacre in 2015. The former Colorado governor is scheduled to have dinner and a roundtable discussion Saturday with survivors of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME, Hickenlooper's campaign announced this week.

Nine Dead After Church Shooting In Charleston
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 19: Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (2nd R) arrives for a news conference outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Authorities arrested Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, after he allegedly attended a prayer meeting at the church for an hour before opening fire and killing three men and six women. Among the dead is the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and a pastor at the church, the oldest black congregation in America south of Baltimore, according to the National Park Service. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nine black parishioners were slain as they prayed during Bible study at the church. The shooter, a white man who said he hoped that the killings would start a race war, is on federal death row.

The historic church in downtown Charleston has become a place of pilgrimage for some 2020 presidential candidates as they campaign in the state, home of the first primary in the South. Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke stopped by during a recent visit to Charleston, as did California Sen. Kamala Harris, who tweeted about her visit after the fact, calling for "commonsense gun safety reforms."

The location of Hickenlooper's meeting with shooting survivors hasn't been announced, and the campaign has not said explicitly if he plans to visit the church itself.

Hickenlooper is known as a staunch advocate for gun control legislation. Following the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, the then-governor called for and signed bills requiring universal background checks and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

Ahead of his trip to South Carolina, Hickenlooper speaks Friday at the National Action Network's annual conference in New York before traveling to Montgomery, Alabama, for meetings with faith leaders and a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which was recently constructed in dedication to victims of lynchings.

Following his dinner with AME survivors, the campaign said, Hickenlooper plans to meet with Democrats in Charleston County and attend Sunday morning services at Royal Missionary Baptist Church, a North Charleston congregation that has hosted several other Democratic presidential contenders in recent months.

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By MEG KINNARD Associated Press

(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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