The white supremacist who killed three Black people in a racist mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend originally planned to carry out the deadly attack at a local historically Black college (HBCU) before he was chased off campus and arrived at the Dollar General store where he opened fire, school officials said on Monday.
Edward Waters University (EWU) confirmed during a press conference that the gunman, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, drove on the campus “almost immediately prior to the vicious attack” and was observed by students putting on tactical gear, including an armored vest, gloves and a mask.
An officer was quickly flagged down before approaching Palmeter, who fled in his vehicle at a fast rate, “jumping the curb and nearly hitting a nearby brock column in the parking lot,” EWU President Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. told reporters.
The officer gave chase before Palmeter left campus.
During his remarks, Faison refused to use Palmeter’s name and described the officer, Lt. Antonio Bailey, as EWU’s “very embodiment of T’Challa,” the comic book character who doubles as the Black Panther superhero in the Marvel series.
“Bailey protected our HBCU version of Wakanda,” Faison said continuing the Black Panther metaphor with a reference to the fictional African homeland of T’Challa, emphasizing how the officer is “nothing short of a hero.”
Faison reiterated that he believed EWU was Palmeter’s “original” target.
“This white supremacist presence at EWU did not happen by mere happenstance,” Faison insisted. “He well knew where he was … at the bastion and birthplace of Black higher education at this state.”
EWU is the oldest HBCU in Florida.
“It was that history, that progress, that Black excellence,” Faison said, that compelled the “domestic terrorist” to make EWU “his original target.”
Bailey credited the EWU students who alerted him to Palmeter’s presence on campus as the real heroes.
While Bailey said he didn’t see any weapons in Palmeter’s car, the reaction to the presence of law enforcement was a red flag to the officer.
“For you to see me approaching and for you to leave that fast, something’s not right,” Bailey told reporters.
He said he was “saddened” when he learned the white man on campus was the same racist who carried out the killings at a Dollar General store about half a mile away, calling the shooting “a tragedy.”
Lamenting a “lack of resources” for Black colleges, Faison called on the Biden Administration to “do even more to secure our HBCU schools who are under deliberate and vicious attack.”
He said he spoke with other HBCU leaders in the past 48 hours and they all agree that now is the time to put politics aside and come together to safeguard Black colleges in the U.S.
Faison also cited last year’s spate of bomb threats as an example of the type of environment to which Black colleges are subjected.
”The future of our nation is inexplicably connected to educating against white supremacy,” Faison said. “Our children’s lives are at stake.”
Watch the full press conference below.
EWU was involved in the earliest reports about Saturday’s mass shooting after video footage posted to social media showed students at the HBCU filming and questioning Palmeter’s presence on campus.
After the shooting, Edward Waters University quickly issued a “stay in place” order to its campus community.
“Students are being kept in their residence halls through the afternoon until the scene is cleared,” the HBCU said in a statement at the time.
Hours later, local law enforcement confirmed that Palmeter said he “hated Black people” and wanted “to kill n*ggers,” conclusions based on a racist manifesto he left behind as well as the swastikas that were drawn onto an assault rifle used in the shooting.
The shooting came on the same day that civil rights leaders and organizations converged on the nation’s capital to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, an event organized in part to demonstrate against racial discrimination and violence.
The shooting also happened more than a year after a heavily armed avowed white supremacist drove from his New York home to a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo and opened fire indiscriminately, killing 10 Black people and injuring others. Payton Gendron, like the Jacksonville shooter, also left behind a racist manifest identifying the motivation behind the massacre at the Tops grocery store.
This is America.
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Jacksonville HBCU Was Racist Gunman’s ‘Original’ Target, Edward Waters University Says was originally published on newsone.com
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