By Lauren Burke
NNPA Capital Hill Contributor
A white racist named Ryan Palmeter, 21, shot and killed three Black people at a Dollar Store in Jacksonville, Florida on August 26. The incident is the latest mass murder by a white supremacist in the U.S. Police told the public at an August 26 press conference that Palmeter used a Glock and an AR-15. At least one of the weapons had swastikas on it and, like several other white racist murderers, Palmeter wrote several messages about his racist ideology and sent them to the authorities and his parents before the murders.
In May this year, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning Black Americans about Florida under Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis, who has said Florida is “where woke goes to die,” has repeatedly branded himself to anti-Black policies and has used the word “woke” as a substitute for Black agenda policy. The modern use of the word “woke” became popular in the Black community after the 2014 murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by Police Officer Darren Wilson.
The NAACP advisory warned Black Americans that, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans… Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.” At a congressional hearing in March 2021, FBI Director Chris Wray confirmed that racist extremists are a steadily growing problem in the U.S., saying, “domestic violent extremism, domestic terrorism, that number is now — has grown steadily on my watch.”
The triple homicide at the Dollar Store is near Edward Waters University, a Historically Black College, in Jacksonville. The school was founded in 1866 by the AME Church. Several news organizations report that the shooter visited Edward Waters University before the shooting and was asked to leave the campus. “This shooting was racially motivated and he hated Black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said during a press conference on the night of August 26. Palmeter shot himself before police could apprehend him. “The shooter offered several manifestos,” Sheriff Waters also stated.
Last year, in May 2022, a white racist 18-year-old named Payton Gendron murdered ten Black people in a Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Gendron wrote a manifesto that focused on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white people were being outnumbered by minorities. Gendron drove from Conklin, New York to Buffalo and live-streamed the murders live on Twitch. Ryan Palmeter drove from Oakleaf, Florida to Jacksonville and reportedly has a history of mental illness but was still able to purchase an AK-47.
“The rhetoric of hate by those in the public eye & on public platforms has consequences. At this point, escalating that rhetoric while loosening gun protections is a setup that targets our communities for violence,” wrote attorney Sherrilyn Iffill on August 26 hours after the shooting. “Ron DeSantis has been leading a hate-motivated war against Black people and all marginalized communities in Florida. It’s been vicious, racist, and contemptible. So, no one should be surprised that violence and death follows in the wake of his state-sanctioned bigotry. The @gop has let the rabid dogs off the leash, with neither the ability nor desire to get it back on.” wrote journalist Dave Zirin on social media.
In 2015, a white 21-year-old racist named Dylan Roof entered a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine African Americans including the church’s senior pastor, State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Roof also wrote a “manifesto” before the shooting. In 2017, a white racist named James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately rammed a car into a group of people protesting thousands of racists who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia as part of the Unite the Right rally. Fields murdered 32-year-old Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer. In 2018, a white racist named Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat morning services in Pittsburgh.