HACKENSACK - Some New Jersey residents are doing their part in sending well wishes to the victims of the South Carolina church shooting and to speak out against racism.
"We want to let America and our community know that we know and we understand what's going on in Charleston. We sympathize with the families and we will give them uplifting support," says Bergen County NAACP President Anthony Cureton.
The Bergen County NAACP organized a prayer vigil Monday evening in honor of the nine victims who were killed in a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methods Episcopal Church in Charleston last week.
Dylann Storm Roof now faces charges in connection with the shooting. A police affidavit released Friday accused Roof of shooting all nine victims multiple times, and making a "racially inflammatory statement" as he stood over an unnamed survivor. Prosecutors allege Roof wanted to start a race war.
The victims included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator who doubled as the church's lead pastor, and eight others who played multiple roles in their families and communities: ministers and coaches, teachers and a librarian, counselors and choir singers and the elderly sexton who made sure the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was kept clean.
About 100 people gathered Monday night at the vigil held outside the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack. The group represented people from all different races, religions, ages and backgrounds. They all gathered to show their support for those affected by the tragedy and to speak out against racism.
"I think this young man's actions seems to be pulling us together, as opposed to separating. I don't think, fortunately, what he had in mind is happening," says Rev. Gregory Jackson of the Mount Olive Baptist Church.
A similar vigil was held in Neptune Monday evening as well.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.