Inside the Trial of Dylann Roof

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Early on the morning of December 7th, a dozen officers from the Department of Homeland Security were stationed outside the federal courthouse at 85 Broad Street, in Charleston, South Carolina. It was warm out, and the officers looked both relaxed and alert, talking among themselves as they kept watch. The federal building is a bunker, all right angles and gray concrete, completed in 1987. Across the street stands the county courthouse, designed by James Hoban, the architect of the White House, and diagonally opposite is the city hall, built in 1801. The federal building would mar what the American Planning Association calls one of the nation’s “great streets,” except that it is hidden by a red brick antebellum structure that faces the street—an architectural sleight of hand that says much about the reasons that the Homeland Security officers were on Broad Street that day.

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