White supremacist charged with terrorism after 'killing black man in practice run'

'With total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin colour'

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 28 March 2017 09:19
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James Harris Jackson, a former army veteran, said he was on a mission to prevent interracial relationships
James Harris Jackson, a former army veteran, said he was on a mission to prevent interracial relationships

A white supremacist accused of stabbing a 66-year-old black man to death has been charged with murder as an act of terrorism.

James Harris Jackson, 28, allegedly selected his victim at random in Manhattan, New York, and has said the attack was a “practice run” for a larger attack.

Jackson, a former army veteran, told the New York Daily News he was on a mission to prevent interracial relationships.

CCTV shows James Harris Jackson running moments after stabbing Timothy Caughman

He said he envisioned a white woman thinking: “Well, if that guy feels so strongly about it, maybe I shouldn't do it.”

The victim, Timothy Caughman, who was described a gentleman and a good neighbour, was alone collecting bottles to recycle last week when he was attacked from behind with a sword with an 18-inch blade.

Jackson appeared in court on Monday, as prosecutors charged him with murder as an act of terrorism in addition to the murder as a hate crime charge he already faced.

He faces life in prison without a chance of parole.

Jackson did not speak, and his attorney did not comment.

“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement.

“Last week, with total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin colour, and stabbing him repeatedly and publicly on a Midtown street corner."

He added: “James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man.”

Childhood friends of Mr Caughman, who grew up in Queens, attended the hearing and said he was a kind man.

“Tim Caughman did not deserve to die like that,” said Portia Clark. “Nobody does. I mean, come on, we're black, white, yellow, brown — that's ridiculous. We're trying to get along.”

Carl Nimmons, a friend of Mr Caughman, cried outside the courthouse. “It really hurt me to see that man [Jackson], because I can't do nothing about it. I don't have the power to do anything about it,” he said.

In the interview, Jackson said in retrospect, he would rather have killed “a young thug” or “a successful older black man with blondes [...] people you see in Midtown. These younger guys that put white girls on the wrong path.”

He complained that on television, “it's like every other commercial in the past few years has a mixed-race couple in it”.

“The white race is being eroded [...] No one cares about you. The Chinese don't care about you, the blacks don't care about you,” he said.

He claimed to have had racist thoughts since the age of three, but described his family as being “as liberal as they come”.

Jackson said he had turned to online forums to discuss his racist views with “like-minded people” instead.

Jackson, who was raised in what was described as a churchgoing, liberal family in a Baltimore suburb, said his ideal society was “1950s America”.

Jackson was in the army from 2009 to 2012 and worked as an intelligence analyst, the army said. Deployed in Afghanistan in 2010-11, he earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist.

The military training, Jackson said, helped him plan the bloodshed.

“I had been thinking about it for a long time, for the past couple of years,” he said.

“I figured I would end up getting shot by police, kill myself, or end up in jail.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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