ILA Statement on Jacksonville (Florida) Hate Crime Killings; Historically Black University With Strong Connections to ILA Local 1408 Was Killer’s Initial Destination To Target and Kill Blacks
NORTH BERGEN, NJ – The International Longshoremen’s Association is deeply saddened and troubled by the killing of three Blacks in Jacksonville, Florida this past Saturday. While the killings occurred at a Dollar General Store and is being investigated by federal authorities as a hate crime, reports indicate the gunman first traveled to the campus of Edward Waters University, a historically Black University that was founded in 1866. The ILA’s Charles Spencer, a one-time International Vice President and current Executive Officer with the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District, serves on the Board of Trustees and Chairs the Building Committee at Edward Waters University.
It is believed that the alleged killer, Ryan Christopher Palmeter, intended to first target black students at Edward Waters University, when he drove onto the campus armed with an AR-15-stule rifle and a handgun. He was chased off university grounds by alert security. He then conducted his rampage at a nearby Dollar General Store.
“Three innocent black people are dead, targeting and killed by a self-proclaimed racist who then killed himself. Our collective prayers and sympathies go to the victims and their families and our Port of Jacksonville community who are now mourning the loss of lives,” said International ILA President Harold J. Daggett. “We know the ILA has strong connections to Edward Waters University, where our ILA Leader from Jacksonville, Charles Spencer, has served on the University’s Board of Directors for the past 21 years. We are grateful the killer was thwarted from causing harm on the Edward Waters University campus.”
“Edward Waters University is the oldest, historically black colleges in the State of Florida dating back to 1866,” said ILA’s Charles Spencer who is the longest serving Board member at the university. Earlier in his life, Charles Spencer studied at Edward Waters University.
Many students who have been awarded scholarships from Charles Spencer’s ILA Local 1408-1, have done their studies at Edward Waters University. Now in its 28th year, ILA Local 1408 just held its 2023 Scholarship event at Edward Waters University earlier this month, on August 7, 2023, where $40,500 in scholarship grants were awarded.
“ILA Local 1408 has awarded $1.75 million in scholarship grants since 1995,” Spencer noted, adding that he was grateful the killer was not walking the campus earlier this month on the day scholarships were awarded at Miller Auditorium on the Edward Waters University Campus.