White supremacist James Harris Jackson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to murder as terrorism and murder as a hate crime in the killing of a black man in New York City almost two years ago.
According to the New York Times, Jackson’s plea comes some four months after he made a videotaped confession to the killing of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman.
In his confession, Jackson said that he killed Caughman as “practice” for a larger attack on young black men who were with white women because he hated interracial relationships.
When the judge asked Jackson, 30, if he had stabbed Caughman because the victim was black and he hoped to incite “a racial war,” Jackson responded, “Yes.”
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said that Jackson’s conviction is the first of a white supremacist on terrorism in the city.
“This is an incredibly disturbed young man and he brought tragedy to Manhattan and he certainly showed Mr. Caughman no mercy and I don’t think this office should show him any,” Vance told the Times. “It was a cruel and completely planned attack with a broader political goal.”
In March 2017, on St. Patrick’s Day, Jackson traveled from D.C. to New York City via bus. He specifically went to New York to carry out his attack because he believed he would get the most media attention in the Big Apple.
“I was planning on doing basically as many as I could in Times Square,” he told detectives during a two-hour interview after he was arrested. Jackson had planned on sending an email to the Times or CNN to explain the motive behind, what he described as, his “amateurish, slipshod version” of a terrorist attack, the Times notes.
While in the city, Jackson spent three days searching for victims, with a short sword and two smaller knives hidden in his coat.
He was seen trailing one black man, who he eventually decided not to attack because there were too many people around. He told detectives he followed 10 to 15 black people or groups, with the intention of killing them, but hesitated.
On March 20, he stumbled upon Caughman, a recycler, going through the trash downtown.
Jackson admitted to investigators that he stabbed Caughman in the back, even as Caughman screamed: “What are you doing?”
Jackson then repeatedly stabbed the older man multiple times before fleeing.
A day after the murder, Jackson turned himself in.
“I looked at this as no different than an Islamist Jihadist coming into the city and attacking a synagogue or attacking a non-Muslim for ideological or political purposes,” Vance, who had intended to try the case, said. “That’s exactly what James Jackson did, except it was based on a bias of white supremacy.”
At no point in his interview with investigators did Jackson express remorse, saying that he meant Caughman’s murder to be a “declaration of global war on the Negro race,” and that he wanted to “inspire white men to kill black men, to scare black men and to provoke a race war.”