Ryan Christopher Palmeter a 21-year-old white man killed 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 19-year-old Anolt Joseph (AJ) Laguerre Jr. and 29-year-old Jerrald De'Shaun Gallion, in a racially motivated shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida on August 26, 2023.
Palmeter was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a Glock handgun. He then turned the gun on himself and died at the scene.
The incident has renewed calls for an anti-black hate crime bill.
There is no federal anti-black hate crime bill because the United States Congress has not passed one. However, there are a number of federal laws that protect people from hate crimes, regardless of their race.
Hate crime bills are laws that increase the penalties for crimes that are motivated by bias against a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other protected characteristics.
Some people believe that there is no need for a federal anti-black hate crime bill because the existing laws already protect black people from hate crimes.
Others believe that a federal law would help to deter hate crimes and aid in providing justice for victims by sending a message that society cares about the victims of these crimes and is committed to holding perpetrators accountable.
Still in others view, a federal law would be divisive and would not be effective in addressing the root causes of hate crimes.
The "divisive" argument however is lost on the Black community especially when the President has signed specific legislation for other groups. Some view that as divisive and a prioritization of one group over others.
Opponents of segregated hate laws say we should have one hate crime bill instead of different ones for different races. But, do hate crime bills even work?
Law enforcement agencies reported 10,840 total incidents and 12,822 victims, demonstrating that hate crimes remain a concern for communities across the country. Nationally, reported hate crime incidents increased 11.6% — from 8,210 in 2020 to 9,065 in 2021. - FBI Supplement to the 2021 Hate Crime Statistics
Hate crimes are statistically rare, however, some may go unreported, either because victims are afraid to come forward or because law enforcement agencies do not properly classify them as hate crimes.
Would an anti-black hate crime bill have prevented Jacksonville shooting?
The history of anti-Black hate crimes in the United States is long and unfortunately, ongoing.
Sadly in the case of Ryan Christopher Palmeter, it seems law and consequences weren't part of the equation.
Sheriff T.K. Waters said the manifestos that Palmeter left behind were like "the diary of a madman". "He was just completely irrational. But with his irrational thoughts, he knew what he was doing. He was 100 percent lucid," Waters said.
Hate is a complex emotion that is often rooted in fear, ignorance, and prejudice. It is not something that can be easily legislated away.
Hate crime laws are mostly symbolic and not a cure-all for racism and discrimination. They can only be one part of a broader effort to address these issues.
Other important steps include bringing down the partisan rhetoric surrounding race relations in this country and focusing more on progress made. Also education, community outreach, and mental health support is vital.
Black Political Opinion is a multi-part opinion-editorial series that looks at various political topics, news, and views, from the perspective of a Black female, conservative leaning Independent.
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