James Harris Jackson, 28, left his home in Baltimore, Md., March 17 and took the bus to New York City with the intent to harm Black men. On March 20, he murdered a 66-year-old Black man, Timothy Caughman.
Prosecutors charged Jackson with murder as an act of terrorism in court on Monday. The charge is in addition to the murder as a hate crime charge he’d already been facing. His attorney had no comment, and Jackson did not speak.
“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a Black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.
He chose New York City “because it is the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement,” according to police.
Jackson walked the streets of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood March 20, wearing a long overcoat, which hid a 26-inch sword with an 18-inch blade. He encountered Caughman while he was collecting bottles from trashcans on a sidewalk. Jackson attacked Caughman, stabbing him multiple times in his chest and back.
Caughman, bleeding, staggered into a nearby police station a few minutes later. He was taken to nearby Bellevue Hospital, where he died. Jackson turned himself in to authorities March 22 after he had seen images circulated by police from surveillance cameras showing him at the scene.
Childhood friends of Caughman, who grew up in Queens, attended the hearing on Monday.
“Tim Caughman did not deserve to die like that,” Portia Clark told NBC New York. “Nobody does. I mean, come on, we’re Black, white, yellow, brown that’s ridiculous. We’re trying to get along.”
“It is believed that he was specifically intending to target male Blacks,” a deputy police chief said of James Harris Jackson’s crime.
Jackson, an Army veteran, told authorities last week that he was angered by Black men who dated white women, according to a criminal complaint. Jackson also said he stalked numerous potential victims before choosing Caughman.
In an interview with the New York Daily News on Rikers Island, Jackson “was at times self-aggrandizing, boasting of his white supremacy without shame,” according to the newspaper:
“In other moments, he appeared dejected by society’s rejection of his violent, racist message.”
Jackson said that he planned to kill numerous Black men to deter white women from dating them. But when thinking back on his act of killing Caughman, he said that he killed the wrong type of Black man.
Jackson would rather have killed “a young thug” or “a successful older Black man with blondes … people you see in Midtown. These younger guys that put white girls on the wrong path.”
Jackson said he grew up in a family of “typical liberal Democrats” in a predominantly white neighborhood outside of Baltimore. He said his grandfather in Louisiana had crosses burned on his lawn because he was “very pro-integration.”
But Jackson said from a young age he began having racist thoughts, sharing his views with “like-minded people” online.
“The white race is being eroded. … No one cares about you,” he said. “The Chinese don’t care about you, the Blacks don’t care about you.”
Jackson served as a specialist in the U.S. Army until 2012 and was deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year beginning in December 2010. He said his military experience helped him in his plans to murder Black men.
“I had been thinking about it for a long time, for the past couple of years,” Jackson said. “I figured I would end up getting shot by police, kill myself, or end up in jail.”
The White House Response to Jackson’s Hate Crime
On Monday, at the completion of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comments to the press on calling for an end to sanctuary cities in the U.S., April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks’ bureau chief and White House correspondent, attempted to ask Sessions about Caughman’s murder in New York City.
“What about the Eric Garner case, and the white supremacist that killed a Black man in New York Is that a hate crime, sir” Ryan asked Sessions as he turned to leave the platform.
deray mckesson (@deray) March 27, 2017
A Twitter user tweeted:
– @AprilDRyan tried to get Attny Gen to answer questions re: Eric Garner case and recent hate crime in NYC.
Yes I did. So if you heard it I know he heard it https://t.co/DYAUTqplxn
AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) March 27, 2017
She then asked Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, about the case.
“What is this White House saying about this obvious apparent hate crime” Ryan said.
“Two issues, number one, I think hate crimes, anti-Semitic crimes, should be called out in the most reprehensible way. There is no room for that in our country,” Spicer said.
He then went on to defend the “people on the right” who he said were unfairly “denounced”:
“But I think that there’s one other piece to this, April, that I just want to be clear on. While we unequivocally, no doubt about it, need to call out hate, anti-Semitism where it exists, where’s another thing we have to do.
“And in your case in particular, I don’t know all of the details, and I don’t want to reference any specific case. But I think we saw this the other day with some of the anti-Semitic behavior that was going out with respect to people of the Jewish faith …
“Is that we saw these threats coming in to Jewish community centers and there was an immediate jump to criticize folks on the right and to denounce us, denounce people on the right … And it turns out, it wasn’t someone on the right. And the president said from the get-go, ‘I bet it’s not someone’ and he was right.”
Spicer was referring to the arrest of a 19-year-old Jewish Israeli teen suspected of calling in a number of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. The teen’s motives are still under investigation.Spicer did not comment on Jackson’s intention of killing Black men or on anything regarding the case.
Butduring a White House briefing last week, Spicer did nothesitate to comment on the case of aMaryland high school student accused of raping a schoolmateafter news came out that the alleged suspect was anundocumentedimmigrant.Spicer called the crime “horrendous and horrible and disgusting,” adding, “I think part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this.”
The defendant’sattorney told CNN onFridayhis client will plead not guilty because “this was a pre-planned, consensual and non-forcible encounter.” In the case involving the killing of a Black man, the white supremacist admitted hespecificallyintended to kill Black men.