In response to Saturday’s tragic, racially motivated mass shooting in Jacksonville, FL Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement:
“The horrific mass shooting in Jacksonville on Saturday was a hate crime—one in which a perpetrator motivated by white supremacist beliefs specifically sought to harm Black people. It is a tragedy, both for the families directly affected and for Black people throughout this country who have been forced to live with the knowledge that violent white supremacists can strike anywhere, anytime. As we reflect on this past weekend against the backdrop of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, the echoes of those who fought before us reverberate in today’s demands for justice. We have been forced to mourn people lost to racialized terrorism with escalating frequency in recent years.
As we mourn this latest loss, the Jacksonville community deserves a response that matches the depth of its pain. We urge President Biden, Attorney General Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, and all our public leaders to stand alongside and support the affected families and communities. We seek swift and substantial federal support for the Jacksonville community, who will bear the weight of this hate-fueled attack for years, if not decades, to come. And even with the cowardly shooter having taken his own life, we support the federal civil rights investigation into how he came to commit such a heinous act. Congress must allocate more funding and resources to investigate and prosecute hate crimes on a national scale, and to provide more training for state and local law enforcement to effectively police hate crimes–which must include stronger regulations on the ability to obtain firearms.
We also cannot ignore the broader context. Elected officials like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other state legislators are intent on implementing racist policies and passing anti-Black legislation designed to stoke racial animus, which inevitably leads to violence. Their policies and their rhetoric are like salt on the wound of racialized terror. We must confront the growing danger for Black people and all communities of color head-on, demanding accountability at every turn. Most importantly, we must not allow ourselves to become desensitized to the poison of hate and violence.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org