James Jackson stared down at his white jumpsuit as prosecutors told a Manhattan Criminal Court Judge on Thursday that he had traveled to New York City from Maryland and fatally stabbed a black man because he hated the idea of black men dating white women.
“We believe he was motivated solely by hatred,” Manhattan ADA Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said, while presenting charges of second degree murder as a hate crime. “We consider this terrorism.”
Jackson was apparently forthcoming about his motives while talking to police after he turned himself in.
“His intent was to kill as many black men in New York as he could,” Illuzzi-Orbon continued. “He murdered in cold blood a man collecting bottles.”
The complaint alleges that the 28-year-old Jackson “had stalked numerous potential victims,” and “was angered by black men mixing with white women.”
Jackson’s victim was 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, who was collecting cans in the Garment District on Monday night when Jackson allegedly stabbed him with a small sword.
According to the criminal complaint, Jackson told prosecutors he had killed Caughman as “practice,” and that he initially intended to go to Times Square to kill more black men. Instead, Jackson turned himself in to police early Wednesday morning, telling detectives that he had knives on his body and that they could find the murder weapon in a Washington Square Park garbage can.
The Daily News reported that Jackson told police he was a member of a white supremacist organization and that his laptop, which police confiscated, contained a manifesto he had written.
“We’re going to take a few minutes, let the dust settle, and figure out what the facts are,” Sam Talkin, Jackson’s defense attorney, told reporters moments after the arraignment. “If the facts are anything near what the allegations are, then we’re going to address the obvious psychological issues that are present in this case.”
Talkin did not present a request for bail for his client, and the case was adjourned until March 27th. At the arraignment, prosecutors reserved the right to bump up the murder charge to the first degree as they are expecting additional charges to be presented at the grand jury level.
In the hours following James’s arrest, news outlets began presenting a narrative that framed James as a troubled veteran, while Caughman was a homeless bottle collector with previous crimes on his record. From the New York Times, which promoted its story by referring to James as a veteran and Caughman as homeless, to the Post, which reported on Caughman’s prior arrests before he was killed, then went so far as to say that Caughman, a “career criminal,” “was refusing to talk to police about the incident and acting combative before his death.” The Post also referred to James as “well-dressed” while dismissing Caughman as an autograph “hound” who was fixated on 1980s star Shari Headley.
Never one to let the Post stand alone on race-baiting, The Daily News, for some strange reason, decided to compare the killing of Caughman to that of police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were shot to death in their patrol car in 2015.
“Timothy Caughman was destitute and impoverished, but he took pride in who he was,” Hawk Newsome, a leader of Black Lives Matter — Greater New York, told a group of reporters outside the courthouse. “How many homeless people you know have Twitter accounts? He had a real positive outlook. But somebody stuck a sword through this man’s body, repeatedly. No one deserves to die like that. I don’t care if you’re the richest man in the world, or the poorest man in the world.”
Caughman lived in an SRO in Hell’s Kitchen and spent much of his time collecting cans and bottles, something he touted on his Twitter account, along with photos of him and celebrities. On election day this year he tweeted out a selfie: “Standing on line waiting to vote I love america.”
In a press release yesterday condemning the murder, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “it’s our collective responsibility to speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence – here or across the country.”
But the mayor refused to answer any questions about the murder during a Thursday press conference on a proposed millionaire’s tax. He has yet to answer any questions about the stabbing.
The president has remained silent about the attack, but earlier today tweeted out his sympathy towards a white American who was killed during a separate terror attack on Wednesday in London.
On Friday, a march is being planned from Union Square to Midtown to commemorate Caughman’s life. So far the NYPD has yet to reach any members of his family.