President Joe Biden condemned a racist attack in which a white man shot and killed three Black people at a Jacksonville store on Saturday — the same day the country reflected on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.
“Even as we continue searching for answers, we must say clearly and forcefully that white supremacy has no place in America,” Biden said Sunday in a statement. “We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin.”
Law enforcement, Biden said, are treating the shooting as a possible hate crime and act of domestic terrorism. They’re also opening a federal civil rights investigation.
“Hate must have no safe harbor,” Biden added. ”Silence is complicity and we must not remain silent.”
His comments came a day after a white man shot to death three Black people inside a Dollar General store in Jacksonville. Angela Michelle Carr, 52, Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19, and Jerrald Gallion, 29, were killed in what authorities called a “racially motivated” attack.
The shooting happened just before 2 p.m., less than a mile from Edward Waters University, a small historically Black university. The shooter, who had also posted racist writings, later killed himself.
Florida leaders react to tragedy
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a presidential hopeful who was campaigning in Iowa at the time of the shooting, called the attacker a “scumbag” and denounced his racist motivation.
“This guy killed himself rather than face the music and accept responsibility for his actions. He took the coward’s way out,” the governor said.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan referred to the shooting as a “hate-filled crime” at a press conference Saturday.
“Our hearts are breaking for our neighbors who were lost in a hate-filled tragedy today,” Deegan wrote on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter. “We must heal our nation and our community to bring an end to racially motivated gun violence and mass shootings.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Crestview) described the shooter as a “sick person” in a post on X.
“We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and hope for a day when violence like this is absent from our society,” Gaetz wrote.
U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Orlando) also denounced the violence via X, and later underscored her concerns on the The Katie Phang Show, which airs on MSNBC.
“It’s not just a culture war. It’s a real war. It’s a real war on Black and Brown lives,” Frost said on the program. “I hope that the DOJ will launch an investigation into what’s going on in [Florida.]”