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Communities Mourn Victims Of Racist Mass Shooting In Florida, Condemn Mainstreaming Of White Supremacist Rhetoric

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American communities are mourning following a racist massacre that took the lives of three Black Americans at a store in Florida this past weekend. The three victims – identified as 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 29-year-old Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr., and 19-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion – were gunned down by a white gunman who authorities say had posted “white supremacist ramblings,” the Associated Press reports. “At least one of the guns had swastikas painted on it.”

Apparently, the shooter had initially traveled to a historically Black university but was asked to leave by campus security. From there, he made his way to a General Dollar store in Jacksonville, where he targeted Laguerre, an employee, and Carr and Gallion, both shoppers. Sheriff T.K. Waters “said that the shooter made clear in his writings that he hated Black people,” the report continued. 

“Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at prayer vigils and in church, in frustration and exhaustion, to mourn yet another racist attack in America,” the AP reported Monday. During one such vigil in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis “was loudly booed” as he attempted to address a group of mourners. 

“It’s kinda hard to believe @RonDeSantis and his ‘condemnation’ of the shooter, when he continually pushes anti-Black policies,” slammed state Rep. Angie Nixon. In just one example from earlier this year, DeSantis has attacked AP African American studies, offensively claiming it lacks educational value. “A white man in his early twenties specifically went to kill BLACK PEOPLE,” Rep. Nixon continued, “The governor of our state of Florida has created an environment ripe for this.”

“Three innocent people were just murdered in Jacksonville by a racist gunman armed with an AR-15 but DeSantis wants us to know about his debate recap,” state Rep. Anna Eskamani wrote on Sunday. She tweeted a screenshot of a DeSantis campaign email promoting his appearance at the first Republican presidential debate, where candidates endorsed waging war within the border of our neighbor and ally Mexico, called for mass deportation, and spread pernicious lies about the fentanyl crisis.

“He could care less about Florida and we would be less safe with him as President,” Eskamani continued. “Look at FL as an example.”

“Ron DeSantis repeatedly refused to condemn numerous Nazis rallys across Florida. Some even flew DeSantis flags alongside swastikas,” tweeted Florida Senate candidate Carlos Guillermo Smith. “The Jacksonville gunman killed three Black Floridians using an AR style rifle with swastikas painted on it.” DeSantis “helped to create a pathway for this type of hate,” tweeted Jasmine Burney-Clark, Equal Ground founder. “You created policies that embolden white supremacist and who target BLACK PEOPLE and for that none of us can forgive you or accept condolences. Florida leaders can’t continue to cower to the Governor.”

Civil and human rights leaders have been warning of the rising wave of hate that targets the “other.” The NAACP this past spring issued a travel advisory warning against travel to the state. “Please be advised that Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the organization warned. “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 minorities.”

But DeSantis’ response was to dismiss it as a “stunt.” Christina Pushaw, a campaign staffer who has also relentlessly pushed an anti-LGBTQ agenda, mocked, “Does this mean no Urban Beach Week?” 

In a tweet, Republican Sen. Rick Scott said that racism “is disgusting,” and that the city of Jacksonville “won’t let this horrific violence tear us apart.” But Scott has embraced dangerous “invasion” rhetoric. This racist lie about a migrant “invasion” at the southern border has a real-world body count and has been the inspiration for white nationalists to commit horrific acts of mass murder, prominent voices reminded. While Sen. Scott is right to condemn the violence, he and his colleagues must also condemn and cease the dehumanizing rhetoric that creates the climate for this racist violence.    

“We haven’t taken this issue seriously enough, even as Black, and brown, and Jewish, and Muslim bodies – both at home and abroad – as a direct result of white supremacist and racist violence,” MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan said in a must-watch clip. He notes racist killings in Charleston in 2015, Pittsburgh in 2018, El Paso in 2019, Buffalo in 2022, and in Allen, Texas, this past May. “Now Jacksonville, Florida … at what point do we say enough is enough?” 

Drawing the clear connection of hate, Jewish Council for Public Affairs CEO CEO Amy Spitalnick said in a statement, “it’s sadly no surprise that this racist shooter marked his gun with swastikas: because antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy are inextricably linked, animating and fueling each other in a constant feedback loop – with deadly consequences for our communities and our democracy.” 

“The horrific killings in Jacksonville are part of a larger pattern of deadly hate and a rising wave of white nationalist violence targeted at the “other” and those perceived and scapegoated as threats – including the Black community, the Jewish community, the LGBTQ community, the Latino community, Muslims, the AAPI community, and immigrant and asylum seeking populations in recent years,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas. 

“Our hearts go out to those Jacksonville,” she continued. “May the families and the larger community find healing and may we as a nation – across all partisan divides – take more seriously the threats before us and the work needed to denounce and defeat those motivated by hate and the ideas that inspire them.”