Pinckney to be honored Wednesday at State House

SC Senator Clementa Pinckney
SC Senator Clementa Pinckney

The tears were flowing freely at Columbia’s State House on Tuesday, and they probably will start again about noon Wednesday, as a horse-drawn caisson approaches.

That caisson is expected to deliver the body of the late state Sen. Clementa Pinckney to the north side of the State House about 12:30 p.m.

The casket of the Jasper Democrat will be in the second-floor rotunda, between the House and Senate, between 1 and 5 p.m. for public viewing.

Pinckney, 41, a highly respected and popular minister and state senator, was one of nine slain in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last Wednesday.

Tuesday, legislators – still stunned by the death of one of their own – remembered Pinckney.

State Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, said Pinckney lived his faith “out loud.”

“What he added to the Legislature ... was compassion, passion, love, respect and, while some may look at those terms and dismiss them, I don’t because you don’t see a lot of that in a time when so many are so crass and so negative. This man was positive, working to ensure a better life not just for himself but for everybody. ...

“On Saturday before last, I buried my mother,” Neal told state representatives. “And, on Wednesday, I lost my good friend. I want you to help South Carolina to come to grips with what it means to care about each other. I want you to put aside partisan bickering and understand that all of us are human beings and all of us deserve to be treated like human beings.

“If ever there’s going to be a day when South Carolina can rise and be the state that it claims that it is, this is the day.”

Neal’s comments were greeted by a standing ovation.

Across the State House lobby in the Senate, Sen. Danny Verdin, R-Laurens, stood up to speak against extending a special legislative session to debate removing the Confederate flag from State House grounds, a move propelled by Pinckney’s death.

While saying he opposed taking up the flag issue, Verdin’s voice broke, his chin trembling as he remembered Pinckney, saying he hoped “we continue to embrace each other in disagreement.”

Jamie Self, The Associated Press contributed

Honors for Sen. Pinckney at the State House

Here’s what to know if you plan to attend the viewing from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday:

▪  Visitors should assemble outside the northeast visitors’ entrance of the State House. Visitors must go through the security checkpoint inside. Visitors will sign a registry.

▪  Visitors will file up the west-side staircase for the viewing and will file back down the east-side staircase.

▪  No photographs or videotaping will be allowed inside the State House.

▪  Water will be provided to those standing in line outside.

▪  Visitors are asked to leave backpacks, electronics and other metal items in their vehicles so they can move smoothly through security.

▪ Regular State House tours will be suspended Wednesday.

Across the street, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will host a brief community service of prayer at noon Wednesday, in partnership with the Rev. Calvin Griffin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The church, at 1100 Sumter St., will stay open for quiet prayer after the service until 5 p.m.