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The Jacksonville shooting took place as the city prepared to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of another racially-motivated attack

Yoonji Han   

The Jacksonville shooting took place as the city prepared to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of another racially-motivated attack
  • A gunman shot and killed three people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday.
  • Authorities believe the gunman was aware of the fifth anniversary of the Jacksonville Landing shooting.

On Saturday, a gunman killed three Black people at a Dollar General convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida.

The white shooter drove from Clay County to the predominantly Black neighborhood, fatally shooting two men and one woman before killing himself.

"To plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people," Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said. "This is a dark day in Jacksonville. Any loss of life is tragic, but the hate that motivated the shooter's killing spree adds an additional layer of heartbreak."

Authorities said manifestos written by the gunman have led investigators to believe he committed the shooting because it was the fifth anniversary of another mass shooting that took place in Jacksonville Landing.

On August 26, 2018, a white 24-year-old gunman killed two people and injured 11 others at a Madden NFL video game tournament before fatally shooting himself. Police did not publicly identify a motive for the Jacksonville Landing shooter.

"This is a community that has suffered again and again. So many times, this is where we end up," Jacksonville mayor Donna Deegan said on Saturday. "It's too often the same folks."

Echoes of the past

The shooting also took place just days before the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"The irony is on the day we celebrate the 60th commemoration of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King stood up and talked about a dream for racial equality and for love, we still yet live in a country where that dream is not a reality," Rudolph McKissick, a national board member of Sharpton's National Action Network, told the AP. "That dream has now been replaced by bigotry."

That isn't the only grisly anniversary of racially-motivated violence in Jacksonville, which has a 30.7% Black population.

On August 27, 1960, around 200 white men attacked Black protestors who were engaging in peaceful sit-in protests at lunch counters in downtown Jacksonville. The attackers, some of whom were thought to have affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan, were armed with baseball bats and ax handles.

The violence swiftly spread, and the mob started attacking all Black Americans in sight. Only when members of a Black street gang called The Boomerangs stepped in to protect those being attacked did the police intervene.

Lunch counters in Jacksonville were desegregated a year later in 1961, but the day was memorialized in infamy as Ax Handle Saturday, named after the rioters' weapons.

"What could be in their hearts that was so bad? Why is my skin so bad? Because if you cut me I'm going to bleed, just like you. What could make your hatred of this black skin so bad that you would want to hurt me?" Patricia Henry, who narrowly escaped the violence as an 8 year old, told The Florida Times-Union in 2010.


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