Posted on September 8, 2023

A Racist Mass Shooting, Black-on-Black Crime and Jacksonville’s Conservative African-American Sheriff

Marc Caputo, The Messenger, September 7, 2023

After a racist mass shooter murdered three Black people in Jacksonville last month, the city’s African-American sheriff, T.K. Waters, was heartened by a personal phone call from President Joe Biden, who pledged his full support and even buttered Waters up.

“How are you guys doing? I saw your press conference and you’re doing a good job,” Biden told Waters, according to the sheriff, who recounted the conversation to The Messager. He bashfully admitted he was flattered when the president added, “You’re a pro.”

Then the president pivoted to a top concern.

“White supremacy is our biggest terrorist threat,” Biden said, a warning the president has repeatedly issued.

Waters kept quiet. He said he just couldn’t agree with the president.

“There’s more problems in inner city, urban America than the threat of white supremacy,” Waters told The Messenger.

“A genocide in our communities is taking place, and no one wants to talk about it,” he said. “When you have thousands of young Black men killing each other in our inner cities every year – and a bunch in Jacksonville and all over the place – that’s an issue inside the community that needs to be taken care of.”


But unlike most Black political leaders in the city, state or nation, Waters is a pro-gun Republican. {snip}


After the killing, DeSantis attended a vigil for the three victims and was booed by Black people in the crowd, many upset with a host of policies that included eliminating a congressional district for an African-American Democrat, blocking an advanced high school African-American studies class and banning Critical Race Theory from being taught in class.

Angie Nixon, a Democratic state House member who represents the district where the mass shooting happened, said DeSantis “has blood on his hands” for his race-related and pro-gun policies, and she also criticized Waters for the way he speaks about race.

“His role is to carry the water for the Republican Party to be, unfortunately, that Black figurehead for them. He is going to be someone that they allow to speak about how bad the black community is,” she said. “I’m very appalled that he’s saying that there’s all these issues within the inner city, but he does not talk about the direct correlation to systemic racism as to why maybe folks in the inner city are under-resourced. There’s crime within the inner city, right? Well, it’s because our schools have been underfunded. We don’t have adequate access to food and to quality medical providers.”

Nixon said she and others were pleased with Waters when he held his first press conference, shocking many when he excerpted from the shooter’s manifesto without censoring himself.

“He wanted to kill n—-rs,” Waters said.


Though he didn’t specifically mention “racist” or “white supremacist” in that quote, Waters said he called out the shooter as a hateful bigot in numerous one-on-one interviews.

But he said he can’t help but wonder why so many murders happen in the city with so little attention

“We had a triple homicide in 2018. Did you hear about that?” he said. “We have more than 100 murders every year. About 60-80 percent are Black and they were killed by Black people. I didn’t get a call from the White House until now.”