President Joe Biden has vehemently denounced white supremacy, stating that it has “no place” in the United States. The incident has prompted hundreds of people to gather at prayer vigils and churches to mourn the victims and stand against racial violence.
Approximately 200 individuals attended a vigil near the Dollar General store in Jacksonville, where 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter carried out the attack using legally obtained firearms. The state’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, known for his stance on gun control and criticism of “wokeness,” faced backlash from attendees as he addressed the vigil.
Governor DeSantis pledged financial assistance to enhance security at Edward Waters University, the historically Black college situated near the scene of the shooting, as well as support for the affected families. Sheriff TK Waters identified the victims as Angela Michelle Carr, 52, AJ Laguerre, 19, and Jerrald Gallion, 29.
President Biden, in a statement released on Sunday, emphasized the urgency of rejecting a society where Black individuals fear violence due to the color of their skin. He drew attention to the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, highlighting the need to eradicate white supremacy. The Justice Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violence.
Biden reached out to Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan and Sheriff Waters to express his support for the community in the aftermath of the tragedy. The shooting unfolded on the same day as the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
The shooter, Palmeter, who had no prior criminal record but had undergone a mental health examination in 2017, committed the attack using a handgun and an AR-15 style rifle with swastikas on it. The incident has sparked discussions about the impact of right-wing rhetoric and policies on racially motivated violence.
The incident echoes a distressing pattern of racist attacks targeting Black Americans, and community leaders and officials are emphasizing the need for honest conversations about racism to bring about meaningful change.