Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy responded to the recent mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, which claimed the lives of three Black people, by blaming the tragic incident on a “racialized culture” and “mental health deficiencies.”
On Saturday, a white gunman, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, walked into a local Dollar General and used two guns — a Glock handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle — to fatally shoot Angela Michelle Carr, 52, who was shot in her car outside; store employee A.J. Laguerre, 19, who was shot as he tried to flee; and customer Jerrald Gallion, 29, who was shot as he entered the store.
During an appearance on CNN, when asked about the shooting, Ramaswamy downplayed the racial elements of the crime.
“The reality is we’ve created such a racialized culture in this country in the last several years. That right, as the last few burning embers of racism were burning out, we have a culture in this country largely created by media and establishment and universities and politicians that throw kerosene on that racism,” Ramaswamy said on the “State of the Union” Sunday. “And I can think of no better way to fuel racism in this country than to take something away from other people on the basis of their skin color.”
He added, “I’ve been saying that for years and I think that is driving sadly a new wave of anti-Black and anti-Hispanic racism in this country.”
Ramawasmy’s comments were in response to Republican Sheriff T.K. Waters’s remarks at a news conference on Sunday.
“All of the deceased victims are Black. Plainly put, this shooter was racially motivated and he hated Black people,” Waters said. “He wanted to kill n-ggers. That’s the one and only time I will use that word.”
Palmeter had been involved in a 2016 domestic violence and was involuntarily committed for a 72-hour mental health examination the following year.
“The reality is we have a mental health epidemic in this country. There are reports that this particular individual, the perpetrator was indeed evaluated for mental health deficiencies as well. And I think we need to have to have the courage in this country to bring back a practice of putting back psychiatrically ill people who pose a risk to their communities into psychiatric institutions, not just drugging them up, but faith-based approaches and other approaches that fill out longing for purpose and meaning in this country,” Ramaswamy added. “I think it is just a shame that we even have mass shootings like this.”