A white supremacist has been charged as a terrorist for the first time ever in a landmark decision in New York.
James Harris Jackson pleaded guilty to the murder of Timothy Caughman last week; he admitted killing the 66-year-old with a sword as he collected bottles for recycling in March 2017.
The 28-year-old former US soldier, from Baltimore, also admitted prowling the streets of New York in search of black victims in the lead up to the attack.
As reported by the BBC, Jackson travelled to New York on March 17, 2017, and plotted his attack while staying at a Manhattan hotel.
Just three days later, the ex-serviceman began his search for a victim. While walking the streets, police say Jackson wore a long coat to hide his 26in (66cm) Roman style sword.
He spotted Caughman as the older man collected bottles for recycling from rubbish bins, stabbing him in the chest and back before leaving him for dead and fleeing the scene.
Mr Caughman managed to walk into a police station while bleeding, however he later died in hospital from his fatal wounds.
Jackson’s guilty plea makes this case the first ever conviction in the state for Murder in the First Degree in Furtherance of an Act of Terrorism, as well as Murder in the Second Degree as a Crime of Terrorism.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in a statement that white nationalism will not be normalised, stating instead that murderers will be treated as the ‘terrorist[s] that [they] are’.
DA Vance on this historic conviction ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/shTJbnUN86
— Cyrus Vance, Jr. (@ManhattanDA) January 23, 2019
District Attorney Vance said:
White nationalism will not be normalized in New York. If you come here to kill New Yorkers in the name of white nationalism, you will be investigated, prosecuted, and incapacitated like the terrorist that you are.
You will spend your life in prison without possibility of parole because there is no place in our city or our society for terrorists – ‘domestic’ or otherwise.
This resolution won’t bring back Timothy Caughman, a beloved New Yorker who was executed for being black on a midtown street corner. It won’t reverse the alarming rise of white nationalism in America.
It is, however, the loudest message that a civil society can send to would-be terrorists, and I thank our prosecutors and the NYPD Detectives whose tireless work enabled us to secure this landmark conviction and send this very loud message today.
Jackson told police after his arrest that he came to New York to ‘murder black men’ and that he targeted Mr Caughman because he was ‘black’ and ‘alone on a dark street’.
Furthermore, he stated that he believed his murder to be a ‘political terrorist attack’ and intended to ‘provoke a race war’ by inspiring ‘white men to kill black men, to scare black men’.
Jackson is expected to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole – the maximum sentence permitted under New York criminal law.
He will be sentenced on February 13, 2019.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).