Once again racism raised its ugly head in a violent manner. A racist shooter killed three Black people near a Dollar General store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, on Aug. 26. The city is home to Edward Waters University, a historically Black college, which was a potential site for more shootings.
The victims were Angela Michelle Carr, 52; a store employee A.J. Laguerre, 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29. Ryan Christopher Palmeter, a 21-year-old white man, was identified as the shooter.
When the extreme-right-wing, bigoted Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, dared to speak at a vigil for the victims on Aug. 28, Black residents heckled and booed him for his crocodile tears for the victims, and rightfully so. It is the DeSantis administration’s “Stop WOKE Act” — that has banned Black History studies, which expose the realities for enslaved people under the heinous institution of enslavement and educate on what Black people have endured from that time to today — reflected in these horrendous shootings.
This past spring the oldest Civil Rights organization, the NAACP, issued a travel advisory warning for Black people planning to visit Florida due to what Florida State House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell characterized DeSantis’s policies as: “emboldening” racists and extremists.
DeSantis also signed the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2022 that prohibits or limits discussion of sexual orientation or gender identification in public schools.
In the aftermath of these shootings, Jacksonville’s racist past was recalled. There were at least nine lynchings, including those of Black soldiers returning home following the end of the first World War.
It is ironic that on Aug. 28, as many people marked the 60th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his iconic “I have a dream” speech calling for social equality, another march was necessary. Jacksonville residents and supporters, Black and white, held a march demanding that Black Lives Matter and an end to white supremacy.
What happened in Jacksonville is certainly no isolated situation when it comes to the actions of domestic terrorists like Palmeter. In May 2022, in Buffalo, New York, a white racist slaughtered 10 Black people at a Tops supermarket. In April 2015, a white vigilante murdered nine parishioners at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The police must not be let off the hook when it comes to domestic terrorism. The only difference between the police and neofascists is that the former are sanctioned under class society to maim and kill with impunity under the guise of maintaining “law and order” in the interests of the billionaire bosses.
In some instances, the police offer comfort to these neofascists following their despicable acts, as in the case of Dylann Roof, who was provided a hamburger when he was arrested peacefully after carrying out the Charleston massacre.
Black people and other people of color will continue to be targets of both state and extralegal violence at both the hands of the police and white extremists like Palmeter until the system that creates and fuels such violence is once and for all eradicated.