NEW YORK CITY — A Baltimore man who traveled to New York and murdered an elderly black man in the hopes of sparking a “race war” was sentenced to life in prison with no parole, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced in a statement Wednesday.
On Jan. 23, 30-year-old James Jackson, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in furtherance of an act of terrorism, second-degree murder as a crime of terrorism, second-degree murder as a hate crime, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The plea marked the first time in New York State someone was convicted of a first-degree charge of murder in the furtherance of terrorism and second-degree murder as a crime of terrorism.
“From the outset of this case, the People have rejected any resolution of this case that does not acknowledge the reality that James Jackson is a white supremacist and terrorist,” Vance said in a statement. “This defendant has now pleaded guilty to all counts of the indictment against him, including terrorism. But the fact Mr. Jackson has pleaded guilty in no way mitigates the horror of his actions.”
In March of 2017, Jackson traveled from his home in Baltimore to New York City “with a single objective” to kill black men,” the DA’s statement said. After walking the city “for days in search of the ideal black person to assassinate, in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against African Americans,” James selected and attacked his victim. On March 20, 2017, at roughly 11:17 p.m., James approached Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man from the borough’s Chelsea neighborhood, on Ninth Avenue, between 35th and 36th Streets. Jackson stabbed Caughman in the back with a “22-inch Roman-style sword” that Jackson had concealed in his pants, the DA said.
The initial attack did not kill Caughman, who attempted to defend himself as Jackson continued to slash him in the hands and face. “Jackson was determined to kill, not to maim,” the DA’s statement said. “He continued to slaughter Mr. Caughman, even as Caughman cried out to the defendant, ‘why are you doing this?’
“… Why was Jackson doing this?,” the statement continued. “By his own admission, he was doing this because he wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man, in – and I quote – ‘a declaration of total war on negroes.’”
Prior to leaving Baltimore to pursue his crime, Jackson wrote a manifesto articulating his motives, calling on “Caucasoid” countries to band together and eliminate other races, and using Nazi slogans and insignia.
“American law enforcement has been slow to acknowledge the rise of and scope of white nationalism in our country today and this has emboldened actors like the defendant,” the District Attorney’s statement says. “We have too often treated these crimes as something less than other kinds of terrorism, and in so doing we have risked normalizing this type of behavior. The Court today has an opportunity to declare that violent white nationalism will not be ignored, minimized, or normalized in New York and that its perpetrators will be sentenced like the terrorists that they are.”