A white supremacist charged with murdering a black man allegedly traveled hundreds of miles to New York City for the express purpose of carrying out his crime.
Baltimore native James Harris Jackson reportedly took a Bolt Bus from his hometown to New York City on March 17. Three days later, a man who police identified as Jackson was caught on surveillance cameras in Midtown Manhattan stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, who is black, in the chest and back multiple times. Caughman died several hours later.
According to the NYPD, Jackson had been harboring his racist sentiment "for quite some time," while the New York Daily News reported that the 28-year-old military veteran had been a member of a "documented hate group." The Daily News did not name the organization to which Jackson belonged.
Citing unnamed sources, the New York Post reported that Jackson turned himself into authorities after having been tempted to commit an additional act of violence upon seeing an interracial couple. "You need to arrest me," Jackson reportedly told police. "I have the knife in my pocket."
Jackson also allegedly told officers, "I'm the person you're looking for," and was holding a wanted poster with his image while turning himself in.
An early report on of Caughman's murder in the Post described then then-unidentified assailant as a "dapper-but-deadly young man," while going out of its way to mention Caughman's previous criminal history. The Daily News also took column inches to describe both Caughman's record, and Jackson's choice of clothing. On Twitter, many condemned the papers' contrasting depictions of the killer and his victim.
In response to Jackson's arrest, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a statement connecting the racially motivated murder to an atmosphere of hate enabled and encouraged by President Donald Trump's election:
In the two months since the President has taken office, hate crimes in New York City – and across the country – have skyrocketed. The repulsive rhetoric and polarizing actions that have come out of this Presidential Administration are appalling and have only served to empower the ugly underbelly of racism that still exists in our country. The arrest of James Harris Jackson, a white supremacist who reportedly traveled to New York City intent on ‘murdering black people’ is deeply disturbing and indicative of a greater divide in our country which Donald Trump has only made worse. There is simply no place for hate or intolerance in our City. The Council will continue to work around the clock in close partnership with the NYPD, public safety officials and the Administration as we keep New York City safe, welcoming and secure for all those who live here.
Jackson has been charged with second degree murder. According to PIX11, those charges may be upgraded, pending a possible hate crime investigation.