Murders in Jacksonville Show Danger of Mainstreaming White Supremacy
Human Rights First mourns another senseless hate-motivated attack
WASHINGTON – On Saturday, a white supremacist murdered three Black people in a hate-motivated attack at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, before killing himself. The gunman used racial slurs, drew swastikas on his firearm, and left behind racist manifestos. Earlier in the day, he attempted to enter the campus of a historically Black university but was turned away by security when he would not identify himself.
“As we mourn those we lost in yet another white supremacist terrorist attack, we recognize that it is further evidence of a national crisis of hate and extremism,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO at Human Rights First. “When extremists perpetrate crimes like this one against Black Americans, they attack everyone who believes in a fair, just, and pluralistic society. As a nation, we must address white supremacy in all its forms. We must hold accountable those who mainstream hate and redouble our efforts to prevent attacks against Black and Brown people, as well as those targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community, refugees, women, and other groups extremists target.”
This attack follows similar attacks targeting Black people in Buffalo, New York, in 2022, where a white supremacist killed 10 people at a supermarket, and in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, where a white supremacist killed 9 people at a historically Black church. These terrorist attacks are in addition to an increase in anti-Black hate crimes, more than any other category, which number in the thousands.
“Most Americans fear that their routine in life, like going to a store, could end in the tragedy of hate-motivated violence. Hate-motivated violence, particularly against Black and Brown communities, is at an all-time high and is accelerating,” said Erin E. Wilson, Senior Director for Extremism and Human Rights at Human Rights First. “There is a throughline from the bigotry, racism, and anti-Black hate spewed by politicians and pundits to the white supremacist ideology that motivates these attacks. We must acknowledge this mainstreaming and hold accountable those who normalize hate so that Black and Brown communities are protected and so that no community lives in fear.”
Earlier this month, Human Rights First joined Foley Hoag LLP in filing a civil lawsuit against the Patriot Front for its violent attack on a Black man in Boston in 2022. The organization has regularly warned that white supremacist violence is on the rise, animated by the mainstreaming of extremist rhetoric and bigoted if coded, language.