David Anderson, a 47-year-old man with an interest in the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and with a history of anti-Semitic and anti-police social media posts, was named as one of the two active shooters who kept police at bay for hours in a dramatic and dangerous Jersey City standoff, murdering veteran detective Joseph Seals in a cemetery, and three civilians inside a kosher bodega. The mayor now says the Jewish grocery was targeted.
Authorities said in a December 12, 2019 press conference that they are investigating the case as a domestic terrorism incident with a hate crime bent. They say that the shooters appear motivated by, in the words of the U.S. Attorney, “a bias toward both the Jewish community and law enforcement.”
They “had a tremendous amount of firepower. They had a pipe bomb in their van,” the New Jersey Attorney General said. Of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, he said that “we have evidence both suspects expressed interest in this group” but they haven’t established definitive membership or anything more concrete.
Anderson left behind a note reading, “I do this because my creator makes me do this and I hate who he hates,” The New York Post reported.
Heavy.com has reviewed multiple posts made online by an identity that Anderson is believed to have used on the Internet; he made numerous extremely anti-police comments on various obscure social media and online video pages, glorified Baton Rouge police shooter Gavin Long, unleashed anti-Semitic and anti-Christian vitriol, and called non-black Jewish people “imposters.” NBC News first reported that law enforcement sources believe the identity – Dawad Maqabath and two others – were used by the shooter. The network explained that the same identity made a series of comments on the Internet. You can see screenshots of the posts located by Heavy.com here. Authorities said in the December 12 press conference that they were aware of social media accounts and working to verify them.
The other suspect has been named as Francine Graham. Anderson, 47, and Graham, 50, were identified by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. According to CNN, the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement is characterized by a belief that blacks “are the true descendants of biblical Jews,” with some even considering mainstream Judaism an “imposter religion.”
According to NBC News, Anderson had made anti-Semitic and anti-police statements on social media prior to the shooting. Details of those posts were not immediately available. Jersey City officials have said the motive is under investigation, but according to NBC, investigators believe the views shared by Anderson were behind the attack. According to The New York Times, police found guns, ammunition and a live pipe bomb in a stolen U-Haul truck Anderson and Graham were driving at the time of the shootings. Investigators also found a “brief and rambling” manifesto-style note in the van, but it did not include a clear motive.
According to NBC New York, Anderson “pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and praised past attacks on Jewish people in New York and killings of police officers,” in part using the social media handle “Dawada Maqabath.” Heavy has reviewed the Facebook page in that name, which is still up. What’s visible shows Biblical references, a cover photo of a lion, and selfies. The identity appears obsessed with police shootings by white officers against black people.
One anti-police comment used by the Dawada Maqabath handle was made under a video online about a Birmingham police officer being killed. It was a comment posted under a video by AL.com, a mainstream newspaper. AL.com had written, “Two Birmingham police officers were shot – one of them fatally- during a confrontation with a car break- in suspect Jan. 13, 2019. The suspect was also shot and another taken into custody.”
The comment from Dawada Maqabath says, “This cop spokesmans sadness disturbs me… Too bad he didnt get killed. Disgustingly dispicable (sic) lap dog.”
Jersey City officials said if officers who were near the shooting scene had not responded as quickly as they had, the suspects likely would have killed or wounded more people, based on the amount of ammo they had. “The why and the ideologies and motivations, that’s what we’re investigating,” stressed Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal, despite previous comments from Jersey City’s mayor that the suspects had “targeted” the store. New York’s mayor painted it as an anti-Semitic attack, writing, “Don’t let anyone tell you that the circumstances of the Holocaust couldn’t happen here. History isn’t just trying to talk to us, it’s screaming at us. There are people living in this city who were in concentration camps. his isn’t the distant past. It’s right here with us.”
The slain officer was a veteran Cease Fire detective who was a married father of five, who worked to take guns off the streets, and who had previous heroism on the force. You can read about his life here.
Police later said he had approached two suspicious people in a cemetery when they opened fire and then fled to the bodega. NBC New York reported, through sources, that surveillance video shows the two suspects “shoot a Hasidic man on the street and then run into the store, where they began firing at the victims inside.” The suspects “had…bomb-making materials inside the truck,” the station reported.
Grewal said in a December 11, 2019 press conference that, after murdering Seals, at 12:21 p.m., a white U-Haul driven by Anderson parked directly across the street from the store about a mile from the cemetery. Within seconds of arriving, Anderson exited the door “with a rifle in his hand,” said the AG. He walked toward the JC Kosher supermarket and “immediately began shooting.” Graham, the passenger, followed him into the store. From that point onward, the suspects remained in the store. They encountered four civilians in the store. Three were killed. One survived a gunshot wound. Those killed were named as Mindy Ferencz, 32; Miguel Douglas, 49; and Moshe Deutsch, 24. The survivor’s name was not released. “One person escaped with a gunshot wound,” the AG confirmed.
Ferencz, 33, whose name is sometimes given as Leah Minda Ferencz and Leah Mindel Ferencz, co-owned the grocery with her husband, and Deutsch, 24, was her cousin and the son of a prominent New York Jewish leader. They were both members of the local Orthodox community. The third victim was earlier identified by NorthJersey.com as Miguel Jason Rodriguez, an immigrant from Ecuador who had been working at the Jewish grocery store for the past three years. His pastor at Iglesia Nueva Vida said he was working there to provide for his wife and 11-year-old daughter.
The civilian victims are the “wife of the owner, a worker, and a customer,” said Grewal. “Our belief is they were killed almost immediately.”
Chabad.org talked to the survivor who was in the store. “I was standing by the salad bar in the grocery and I heard three shots, bullets shattered the glass of the grocery,” he told Chabad. “Suddenly I saw two people come in, with long black raincoats and long guns. They tried to point the gun at me, I pushed it away and ran away.” Read more about Ferencz and the JC Kosher Supermarket where the standoff occurred here.
Jersey City Chief Michael Kelly said in a news conference that police received a call of shots fired on the afternoon of December 10, 2019. When they responded, they were “immediately engaged by high-power rifle fire.” At the same time, they learned an officer, later identified as Seals, a Cease Fire unit officer known for removing guns off the streets, “was down in another part of the city.”
Kelly described the crime scene as “very extensive and is at three locations at least. We have one stolen U-Haul vehicle that may contain an incendiary device. It’s being examined by the bomb squad. We have five people DOA inside the store. We believe two of them are bad guys, and we believe three of them are not and may be civilians who were inside the store,” he said. That brings the death toll to six.
The city’s schools were all locked down, and two other officers were shot but were treated and released, the chief said. NJ.com described one of the civilians as a person who was just shopping at the store, which is a kosher store in a Jewish neighborhood.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Anderson Was Once Associated With the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement
NBC New York reports that the 47-year-old David Anderson was once associated with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The station says that an online presence associated with Anderson contained anti-semitic and anti-police sentiments. A note with religious writings was found inside of the U-Haul. The New York Times said that a law enforcement source referred to those writings as “rambling.”
The Times also confirmed with an official that Anderson had ties to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, writing, “The extent of Mr. Anderson’s involvement in that group remains unclear, the official said. The Black Hebrew Israelites have no connection with mainstream Judaism.”
In August 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “The black supremacist wing of the Hebrew Israelite movement is spreading and its leaders are growing increasingly militant.” The group is headquartered at the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ along Madison Avenue in the Harlem section of New York City. The group maintains that black people are the “true Jews.”
The headquarters were raided by the FBI and IRS agents in November 2016. Jermaine Grant, the group’s leader, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States in April 2019, reports the New York Daily News.
The Black Hebrew Israelites gained national attention in January 2019 when members of the group who were protesting in Washington D.C. and confronted students from Covington Catholic High School.
However, New Jersey’s Attorney General dodged all questions about motive and ideology, saying that those things were under investigation and authorities want to complete that investigation before making definitive statements.
“We’re not in the position at this time to say definitively why the suspects decided to stop in front of the supermarket and begin firing immediately,” said Grewal, adding that “numerous firearms were recovered from the scene. A pipe bomb was also recovered.”
According to the Times of Israel, the Ferencz store where the shooting occurred is the “only kosher supermarket in the area and a central fixture for the growing community.” A yeshiva and a synagogue are close by. The newspaper said that about 100 Jewish families live in that area, mostly moving there from Brooklyn.
Chabad described the store as “a focal point of the Greenville neighborhood’s growing Jewish community.”
2. Anderson, a Former Truck Driver, Had a Criminal Record, Including Weapons & Domestic Violence Convictions
Public records obtained by Heavy show that David Anderson had a criminal record. Anderson was charged in 2007 with felony unlawful possession of a handgun in Hudson County, New Jersey. He was arrested in December 2008 in Hudson County on drug and weapons charges, including possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, specifically firearms, and unlawful possession of weapons, specifically an air or spring pistol. He was also charged with possession of narcotics. He was found guilty of a felony weapons charge and spent time in prison and on probation. He also had a previous arrest in 2004 in New Jersey.
Anderson, who has spent time living in Ohio and New Jersey, has also been arrested in Ohio. In 2009, he was charged in Portage County, Ohio, with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail. The case stemmed from a domestic violence incident in Kent, Ohio, records show.
Anderson was a former truck driver, but his trucker license issued to him in New Jersey expired in 2013, according to official records. He is also listed as having registered two businesses in New Jersey, Diamond Cutts Music Group LLC and Global Logistics Integrated LLC. Diamond Cutts, based at his Jersey City home, was set up to “sell records and related merchandise,” according to state records. Global Logistics, based at the same Jersey City address, was set up to “transport freight for freight shippers.”
Greg Ehrie, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Newark, said the FBI did a forensic analysis of the suspect van.
“They did locate in that, amongst other items that I won’t be discussing, a pipe bomb — an improvised explosive device,” he said in the press conference. “What I will say is that it was examined, it’s in the FBI laboratory right now. It was a viable device, meaning that it could be a device that would have exploded. It was not complicated but sophisticated in the sense that time and effort went into creating it.”
3. Anderson Turned Graham Into a ‘Dark Person’ After They Met, a Former Neighbor Says; the Social Media Posts Likely From the Suspect Show Vitriols Toward Jews & Police
A former neighbor of 47-year-old Francine Graham’s told NBC New York that after she met Anderson, the shooting suspect became a “dark person.” The neighbor said Graham had been a home health aide in Manhattan but quit after becoming injured in work.
The neighbor went on to say that Graham had become involved in a religion that he could not identify. That religion involved chanting and reading from the New Testament. The neighbor said Graham moved out after she stopped paying her rent.
It is not clear exactly when Graham and Anderson met. Graham’s family members told The New York Times they weren’t aware of any connections she possibly had to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and said they are trying to figure out what happened. Graham grew up in the Manhattanville Houses in West Harlem and a neighbor told the newspaper she was a “very nice person.”
Grewal said the state saw the “very worst of humanity.” But we also “saw the very best. Yesterday could have been far deadlier. The reason it was not was due to the heroism of the Jersey City police department” and cooperation with other agencies, he said.
Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy praised law enforcement, saying that, were it not for the immediate response “today we would be coming to terms with a much starker reality. This remains a very fluid and fast-moving investigation.”
He said that his administration is working to “provide whatever assistance is needed to ensure that residents are safe. Based on everything we know, there is no ongoing security concern relating to the events of yesterday.”
“An attack on our Jewish community… is an attack on all 9 million of us,” he said, praising the state’s diversity. “We are also firm in our resolve to take the steps necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who shops at the store, told Times of Israel that he spoke to Leah’s husband, Moishe Ferencz, but Moishe didn’t know his wife had been killed yet. Online records show that both Leah and Moishe are in their early 30s; they also tie Moishe to the business. Online records indicate she sometimes went by Mindy Ferencz.
“He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,” Schapiro said, according to Times of Israel and The Associated Press. “His wife was inside the store. He said, ‘I hope my wife is safe.’”
Rabbi David Niederman told CBS that Mindy Ferencz was a wife and mother of five.
“Mindel Ferencz, may she rest in peace, was a pioneer. She and her husband were from the first people who moved to Jersey City, who could not afford a home for their growing family and figured, ‘let’s go to places where it’s cheaper, and I’ll make an example and go there. I’ll open a grocery store so that families can go and shop locally,’” said Rabbi Niederman. “Therefore growing the community, alleviating the pain of so many – thousands of families – who live under unbearable conditions.”
North Jersey.com reported that Moshe was Ferencz’s cousin. His full name was Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, and he was “visiting from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.” Another cousin was also in the store and was injured but survived.
According to the news site, he is the son of Abe Deutsch, described as “a well known community leader in Williamsburg.” Rabbi Niederman also discussed Moshe to CBS, saying, “Moshe himself studied, found his time to help not only his peers from his yeshiva but other kids, and he was one of the major organizers in the major food drive that 2,000 families get every year. The network described Moshe’s dad Abe as a “prominent Jewish leader.”
In that video, the police spokesman for the Birmingham Police Department had said, “The men and women of the Birmingham Police Department do everything we can to address crime in the city. We do everything we can to try to protect and serve the people of the City of Birmingham with pride and respect and we do everything we can to keep everyone safe. At 1:59 this morning, we had officers working where we had a problem with burglary from vehicles. One officer was undercover. Other officers were in uniform…they approached two suspects who were burglarizing a vehicle..the officers approached one suspect, patted him down, where they found what believed to be a weapon…he fired upon our officers. Two Birmingham police officers have been struck. One of them has been mortally wounded.”
Seven months ago, Dawada Maqabath posted a comment on a YouTube video, writing, “Why did they stop rhis (sic) man from beating up the devil cop?” In response to a comment, he wrote, “wow… They laid hands and feet on a brother to protect the murdering, kidnapping, oppressor. All I can do is SMH.” Another page responded, “yeah it just shows how mentality we’ve been beaten.” Maqabath wrote, “True.”
The comments came on a video that was basically a diatribe against the government and the FBI. It’s called “12 Years a Slave/ Armed With A Cell Phone.” It shows footage of white police using force against black people. It’s a compilation of citizen cell phone videos and news stories involving police use of force. “The government doesn’t send white snipers to the hood to do their dirty work,” the opening says.
The comments on Alton Sterling came under a video on another page in which hosts talk about Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge police.
“These police are NOT scared, they are carrying out a well planned agenda layed out by the upper echelon of Rosenbergs people. Esau and Jacob, God and the devil playing out in front of your very eyes but the valley of the dry bones refuses to be resurrected. A war that has NO end. Selah,” Maqabath wrote only four months ago.
NBC also reports that the handle “describes growing up in a religious home and joining the army, before ‘years of dabbling with petty drug dealing and dead-end jobs, brief stints in jail and prison.’”
The only page “like” on the Maqabath Facebook page: A page selling “Hebrew garments.” The page reads, “Tool of TMH,” meaning “The Most High,” a reference to supposedly properly reading the Bible.
4. Anderson Wrote That He Served in the Military in the Past & Sold Items Out of the Back of a Van
The social media posts also show Anderson selling items out of the back of a van and as a street vendor. In addition, he indicated that he was on parole, was a felon, was trying to break into the hip hop music scene, and used to serve in the U.S. military.
He wrote, “A vendors license is 100% free for all United States military veterans in the state of New Jersey. If you have served your country, get on your grind and claim your piece of America. your vendors license.” PIX11 reported that Anderson served in the military in the 1990s and was linked to the Israelite Church of God in Jersey City.
Authorities said in their first and second news conferences that they don’t believe the mass shooting situation was a terrorist attack or hate crime.
However, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop then tweeted this development later that evening without offering further explanation: “Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked. Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats.” People demanded clarification – was he saying the suspects targeted the bodega as a hate crime? – but he didn’t give it, at least not that night.
On the morning of December 11, Mayor Fulop gave more information. “Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location on MLK Dr – the 2 JCPD officers that were on a foot post one block away immediately responded/engaged and prevented the perpetrators from leaving that location and harming any further civilians. At this time we have no credible further threats from this incident but out of an abundance of caution we will be increasing our police presence in the community,” he said.
The disturbing surveillance video emerged on Tuesday:
“I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like #JerseyCity that has always welcomed everyone. It is the home of #EllisIsland and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and anti-semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city.” He said more details would have to come from the Attorney General’s Office.
Fulop said at a press conference, “Yesterday it was difficult to understand intent and there are still a lot of questions around that. After reviewing CCTV cameras on the Jersey City side, we do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli. We can see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly, the perpetrators stop in front of there and calmly open the door with two long rifles and … began firing from the street into the facility. There were two officers on a walking post one block south and when they heard the gunshots they responded immediately and from what we can tell on the CCTV cameras, had they not responded and had they not been there in that location, more than likely more people would have died.”
Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea added, “They parked the van, they exited the van with the long guns in their hands and they immediately began firing toward the location where we lost three of our citizens yesterday. There were multiple other people on the streets. There were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place. So it was, clearly, that was their target, and they intended to harm people inside there,” referencing the kosher market.
Shea said that with the amount of ammunition Graham and Anderson had, they likely planned on attacking more people if they had not been confronted by the officers and forced to barricade inside the market.
When asked if it was anti-Semitic attack, Shea said, “I didn’t use the words anti-Semitic. The motives are still part of the investigation. I said this location, they exited the van and they proceeded to attack in a targeted manner. Anything else is open for investigation. I have nothing but confidence in the people investigating it. They will leave no stone unturned and they will find those answers for the community.”
The suspects were armed with high-powered rifles, police said. “Our officers were under fire for hours,” said Kelly. “We have no inkling what the motive was yet.”
The police scanner audio gave a sense of the scene; Seals was shot in a cemetery, and the suspects drove a U-Haul van, possibly containing explosives inside, to the bodega, where at least one of them holed up and starting firing randomly. Kelly later confirmed that basic sequence of events.
“We called for mutual aid from our partners – FBI, Port Authority, all surrounding municipalities, ATF. At that time, we set up a tactical advantage. Continued to take gunfire for hours. Two more police officers were hit by gunfire. One sustained an injury to the shoulder. One sustained an injury to the body,” Kelly said.
The standoff, which went on for four hours, led to a massive law enforcement response.
“He’s shooting again,” an officer said on the police scanner at one point. The ATF confirmed: “Breaking: @ATF_Newark Agents responding to reports of an active shooter in Jersey City, NJ.”
There is contradictory information about how Seals first encountered the two suspects. However, ABC7 is reporting that, according to law enforcement sources, he might have been investigating a weekend homicide. At first, the television station reported, authorities suspected it might be a drug case. But the investigation has taken them on a new direction.
The suspects might have drawn Seals’ interest because of the weekend homicide of a man named Michael Rumberger, of Jersey City, whose body was found in the trunk of a Lincoln Town car, according to ABC and NBC New York. Rumberger was found beaten to death with head trauma. There is a GoFundMe page set up to help Rumberger’s family. He was a livery driver who lived in Jersey City.
You can learn more about Rumberger’s death here.
The circumstances of the killing of Det. Seals remain under investigation. However, Grewal revealed that “the two suspects, Anderson and Graham, are our prime suspects in the Bayonne Uber driver killing” of Rumberger.
NBC New York reported that, according to law enforcement sources, it’s believed that “Seals saw a U-Haul truck possibly linked to a murder from over the weekend in Bayonne. As he approached the truck, one of the suspects got out of the car and shot him.”
The television station added: “It was not immediately known why or how the U-Haul truck that Det. Seals approached was linked to the death of livery driver Michael Rumberger.”
As to whether the officer was investigating a homicide, Kelly said: “Those are all potentialities that are being looked into.” Seals was on duty. “Detective Seals was working. He came upon bad guys, and I don’t know how he got there just yet,” he said, adding that Seals was a plainclothes detective.
Police described the scene outside the bodega as “chaotic.”
The two suspects jumped out of a U-Haul van and ran into the store, according to scanner transmissions. Police repeatedly worried about “devices” in scanner transmissions.
A man was down inside the store, and someone had put a glass coffee pot in view. Police worried that it could be a “device.” The window in the back was garbage bag taped, police said. The bodega in question was located at Wilkinson Avenue and Martin Luther King Dr. in Jersey City. The specific address was 223 MLK Drive, according to NJ.com. Online records say that’s the address of JC Kosher Supermarket.
ABC News also reported that the suspects fired long guns at arriving police.
Tactical officers were responding. “Keep your people safe,” one officer said on the dispatch audio.
The report of two shooters came early on from scanner dispatch audio. “We saw two shooters get out of the van. We saw two jump out of that van and go in,” said an officer. The description was “black male and a black female” wearing all black clothing, possibly with rain or trenchcoats. That officer told the dispatcher it wasn’t clear whether both shooters were still inside the store, but police didn’t see either come out. Later reports said both suspects were males, and the Jersey City chief said on the evening of the shooting that “preliminarily” he thought they were both men.
Conflicting information resulted as the hours unfolded about whether the suspects were two males or a male and a female. It was later revealed they were a man and a woman, just like the first scanner reports said.
The shooters’ movement was “rapid and continuous for four hours,” said the chief.
When it was over, the three civilians lay dead inside the bodega. The chief indicated that police think the suspects shot the civilians as opposed to fire from police. “We think this was all bad guy fire,” he said.
Seals was shot in Bayview Cemetery. At one point, NJ.com reported that “the gunmen are shooting at anyone they see on the street and… fired at the Sacred Heart School.”
NJ.com reported that a second officer was believed to be shot near Martin Luther King Drive and Bidwell Avenue. That officer is expected to recover.
NBC New York described what happened to one officer as an “ambush,” and said an officer was shot in the head. NJ.com reported that the wound struck the officer once in the back of the head, behind the ear, and that the van the suspects were driving was stolen.
Every Jersey City school was locked down. Scanner traffic indicated that four other people might be in the bodega. “We’ve got movement in the store,” an officer said on the scanner at 2:41 p.m. Offices said a male had “popped out” of the store and then went back in.
“This is a neighborhood that’s up-and-coming. It has challenges,” Kelly added. He said it’s becoming safer over recent years. “Folks who live in the neighborhood are supportive of the Police Department.”
The standoff got worse as the hours ticked by.
“Use caution. The U-Haul nearby is hot,” an officer said, referring to the vehicle the suspects arrived at the store in. They said pipe bombs were in it.
At one point, police were surrounding the store. They wanted to make sure that police had a “line of fire.” The New Jersey State Police wrote, “State Police assets from T.E.A.M.S., Canine Unit, Bomb Unit, Marine Services, Aviation, Field Ops, Tactical Patrol, Central Security, Trafficking, and Emergency Response Bureau are assisting @JCPoliceDept with the active shooter investigation.”
On the scanner, officers made reference to clearing a cemetery. An officer called in and said he had a witness and asked for a detective. They were talking about beginning negotiations. They spoke about officers having a “clear view into the store.”
The situation was still going on for hours after it erupted around 12:20 p.m. Responding police were wearing ballistic body armor and kevlar.
5. The Anti-Defamation League Says That Compared With 2013 There Was a 150% Increase in Anti-Semitic Incidents in 2018 & There Have Been Concerns the Black Hebrew Israelite Was Becoming More Violent
The Anti-Defamation League has reported a 150 percent increase in anti-semitic incidents comparing 2013 and 2018. While in a 2018 survey, the American Jewish Committee said that 80 percent of respondents reported a rise in anti-semitic incidents. Respondents also disapproved of President Donald Trump’s handling of incidents of antisemitism. The ADL says that in 2018, there were over 1,8000 reported incidents of antisemitism in the United States.
In October 2018 and in April 2019, two synagogues, in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, suffered through deadly shootings.
On the day of the Jersey City shooting, President Donald Trump signed an order identifying Judaism as a nationality in order to combat growing antisemitism.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday morning of the Jersey City incident, “This was a premeditated violent antisemitic hate crime. … You can say it was an act of terror.”
De Blasio was announcing an initiative by the NYPD to stem anti-Semitic crime.
The Southern Poverty Law Center writes, “The Hebrew Israelite movement is rooted in Black Judaism, a belief system birthed in the late 1800s by black Christians from the South’s Pentecostal “Holiness” movement. They claimed to have received a revelation: America’s recently emancipated slaves were God’s chosen people, the true Hebrews. According to Black Judaism doctrine, when the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed, the Israelites were first scattered across the African continent and then selectively targeted by enemy African tribes who captured and sold them to European slave traders for bondage in the New World.”
The SPLC adds, “Black Judaism leaders preached self-empowerment and economic independence, an early form of black nationalism that was foundational for later groups like the Nation of Islam. Their rhetoric, emphasizing the biblical theme of an oppressed nation being led to a promised land, informed black activist thought right up through the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.”
In 2008, the SPLC wrote that some groups of racist Black Hebrew Israelites were becoming more militant. “Around the country, thousands of men and women have joined black supremacist groups on the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement, a black nationalist theology that dates back to the 19th century. Its doctrine asserts that African Americans are God’s true chosen people because they, not the people known to the world today as Jews, are the real descendants of the Hebrews of the Bible.
The SPLC added, “Although most Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly racist nor anti-Semitic and do not advocate violence, there is a rising extremist sector within the Hebrew Israelite movement whose adherents believe that Jews are devilish impostors and who openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery.”
White supremacist leader Tom Metzger once said, “They’re the black counterparts of us.”
READ NEXT: Read About the Life of Joseph Seals.