A white supremacist has been charged as a terrorist for the first time ever in New York
On March 17, former US soldier James Harris Jackson travelled to New York, where he he stayed at a Manhattan hotel, planning an attack. Three days later, the 28-year-old from Baltimore searched the streets for black men, wearing a long coat to hide a 26-inch Roman-style sword, which he drew upon a 66-year-old man.
He spotted the Timothy Caughman as he collected bottles for recycling from other bins, and stabbed him in the chest and back, leaving him for dead. Caughman managed to make it to a nearby police station despite his wounds, but later died in hospital from his injuries.
Now, nearly a year on from the incident, Jackson has pleaded guilty to the 2017 murder, and the trial has become a landmark case.
Admitting to killing Caughman, Jackson told police after his arrest that he had travelled to the city to "murder black men," noting that he had chosen his target because he was African-American and "alone on a dark street". In addition to this, he said that it was intended as a "political terrorist attack," with aims to "provoke a race war" by pushing "white men to kill black men, to scare black men".
In a previous statement, the district attorney said that Jackson had "prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate" as part of a "campaign of terrorism" that he hoped to continue.
The guilty plea has made this the first time there has been a conviction for a white supremacist in the state for Murder in the First Degree in Furtherance of an Act of Terrorism in addition to Murder in the Second Degree as a Crime of Terrorism. In a statement District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr warned against the normalisation of white nationalism.
In his full statement, he 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.
Following his conviction, Jackson is expected to receive a sentence of a life in prison, without the possibility of parole. This is the maximum sentence permitted under the state's criminal law.
He will be sentenced for his crimes on February 13 this year.