Why is America So Reluctant to Call These Murders White Terrorism?
An essay about the hate crime in Jacksonville, Florida, where a White gunman killed three Black people in a Dollar General
Once again, the Black community is grieving because of lives lost from a racist attack. Yesterday, on Saturday, August 26th, a young White man, Ryan Palmeter, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and handgun, opened fire in a Dollar General in Jacksonville, Florida, killing three Black people, two men and one woman. All the signs pointed to this being an act of white terrorism, yet you are unlikely to hear anyone use that terminology in describing the events that happened. Unfortunately, there is a reluctance to define crimes, no matter how heinous, as acts of terror when the suspects are White, even though that's clearly the intent behind the violence. Are we not human, do we not bleed? Are we not capable of being terrorized? Black people will never be safe in a nation in denial about the dangers they face.
In a news conference held early Saturday evening, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said, "This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people." The shooter, described as a White man in his twenties who lived with his parents, wrote several manifestos. His father found one on his computer after receiving a text message and alerted the authorities. Sadly, Palmeter had already started his attack at the Dollar General that afternoon and barricaded himself inside. Witnesses spotted the gunman a little earlier, blocks away from Edward Waters University, a historically black college. Campus security turned him away after he refused "to identify himself," and he returned to his car without incident.
"He took that opportunity to put his bulletproof vest on outside and to put his mask on outside and then proceed to the store where he committed this horrible act," Waters told the press. Sherri Onks, a special agent for the FBI in Jacksonville, said they "opened a federal civil rights investigation" and "will pursue this incident as a hate crime." While this language sounds reassuring, the shooter killed himself. So, while we will likely learn more about the self-avowed white supremacist in the coming days, their…