WASHINGTON – Violence in the form of hate crimes is rising across America.
The FBI is investigating the shooting over the weekend in Jacksonville, Florida as a hate crime – the latest in a surge of hate crimes in big cities.
President Joe Biden has called for action and said communities impacted should feel empowered to speak out about injustice.
Keeping tempo to the beat of an anguished voice, a single dancer circles a casket in a dance meant to honor a friend whose steps were stolen from him. It was grief expressed as a praise dance at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania funeral for 28-year-old O’Shae Sibley.
Police said Sibley was fatally stabbed in July by a 17-year-old for standing up to several teens who taunted his group of gay, Black friends.
“One day at a time. I am just trying, you know,” Sibley’s father Jake Kelly said. “It’s real hard.”
Prosecutors said anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ+ bias is to blame, so the suspect is facing charges of second-degree murder as a hate crime.
Sibley’s death is one of too many in a series of crimes across the country that show a spike in violence steeped in racial animus.
Recent data from the FBI shows hate crimes rose 12 percent between 2020 and 2021, reaching the highest level since tracking began in the early 1990s.
In the month that marked the 60th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful march on Washington. President Biden warned a rise in anti-semitism and racist attacks won’t be ignored.
“White supremacy is a poison,” Biden said. “It’s a poison that’s been allowed to grow faster and fester in our communities to the point we’re in. The intelligence communities, the U.S. Intelligence community determined that domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat we face in the homeland.”
In Florida this week, community leaders gathered to remember the victims of a self-proclaimed white supremacist who opened fire at a Dollar General store using a handgun and AR-15-style rifle to kill three Black people.
“We cannot have someone come from another community and shoot up this community,” Jacksonville City Councilwoman Ju’coby Pittman said. “It ain’t no Black-on-Black crime. It’s a hate crime.”
Authorities are investigating Saturday afternoon’s deadly rampage as a racially motivated crime. It has left the predominantly Black neighborhood shaken.
One clergy member told CBN’s Faith Nation that there is a solution.
“The church should be the incubator to cultivate what will, what will bring a vaccine to this disease,” said Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. “It begins with every church and every family and our own family. Raising children to see every human being as made in the image of God.”
The White House confirmed federal law enforcement has opened a civil rights investigation into the Jacksonville attack and is treating it as a possible hate crime and an act of domestic violent extremism.
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