Mayor decries hate at Caughman funeral

First Lady Chirlane McCray (l), Public Advocate Letitia James and Mayor Bill de Blasio arrive for the funeral of Timothy Caughman at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Photo by Nat Valentine
By Patrick Donachie

Timothy Caughman was remembered at his funeral by well-wishers and elected officials as a generous and warm individual who loved conversing with fellow New Yorkers.

Caughman was allegedly murdered by Baltimore resident James Harris Jackson, with a motivation based on racial hatred, authorities said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to speak to parishioners at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Jamaica, at 10660 Union Hall St., last Saturday. Caughman was born in Jamaica and grew up in the South Jamaica Houses. He was living in Manhattan when he was killed.

“He was attacked because of who he was, plain and simple. And don’t think for a moment it was an attack on one stray man, because it was an attack on all of us,” de Blasio said during his remarks. “It was a racist attack. It was an act of domestic terrorism. We have to call it what it is, but it was also an attack on all of us because this city stands for something. So, it’s no surprise that evil came calling here.”

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jackson traveled to New York City and walked the streets of New York for three days, seeking a black person to murder. Vance said Jackson allegedly found his victim in front of 462 9th Avenue in Manhattan, repeatedly stabbing Caughman before fleeing. Vance said Jackson had traveled to New York to murder black men because he thought the act would get more publicity.

De Blasio referred to previous speakers, who had mentioned Caughman as living in “a state of joy,” which the mayor said could be difficult to maintain in a city as frenzied as New York.

“We all have to work hard to try and find the joy sometimes even when it’s staring us in the face,” he said. “Timothy understood something that maybe a lot of us don’t understand well enough. He understood what was good around us and he obviously had a love for his fellow human being.”

De Blasio did not explicitly refer to President Donald Trump, though he did allude to a need to “understand the forces of hate that have been unleashed in recent months,” and also chastised reporters who had focused on mistakes Caughman made rather than the fact that he had been killed in a racist attack.

“He was a black man killed by a white man whose goal was to find black people and kill them. Period,” the mayor said. “And it was noted, and then quickly the media, and our society in general, moved onto other topics. Let me be straight forward: What if it had been a black man who traveled to another city with the sole purpose of killing white people?”

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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