GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A 62-year-old white man convicted of attempting to run down six Black men at the site of the Rosewood massacre has been sentenced to a single year in prison.
David Allen Emanuel appeared solemn and reserved on Thursday as federal Judge Allen Winsor delivered the sentence on six counts of hate crimes for attempting to run over Historian Marvin Dunn, his son and four other Black men who were surveying Dunn’s Rosewood property to build a memorial for the massacre.
The judge’s sentence called for 12 months plus one day in federal prison for each of the six charges, which he allowed to run concurrently. The Justice Department had sought a “substantial” prison term of between five and six years.
Emanuel, a retired clam farmer in north-central Florida, must surrender to report to prison no later than noon on Jan. 2, the judge said. He was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release after the prison term ends.
Rosewood was a Black town in Levy County, Florida, that was destroyed in 1923.
Prior to the attack in September 2022, Emanuel shouted racial slurs at the group from his white Ford F-250, and demanded that the men leave the area, court records show.
After Dunn responded they were parked on a public road, Emanuel sped off only to return minutes later — his truck charging toward the group. Dunn’s son, Frederick Douglas Dunn, leaped into the grass, saving himself by mere inches. A jury convicted Emanuel over the summer.
“I’m relieved this is all over with, and I think that it’s fair,” Dunn said.
At the hearing Thursday, family and supporters of Emanuel filled the defense side of the courtroom. Muffled sobs emanated from some as the judge read the sentence.
“I do see he’s provided a lot of value to the community,” Winsor said. “I don’t think he’s going to do something like this again … but there’s a need for general deterrence, and it’s clear he did it because of race.”
Dunn, 83, and his son sat somber on the opposite side, flanked by a handful of others.
The elder Dunn said the attack was the worst racial upheaval he’s experienced since the Civil Rights era, but he and his son drove from their homes in Miami with a message of forgiveness.
Dunn submitted a letter to the judge last week on behalf of the other victims requesting mercy be shown to Emanual, not solely for him and his family, but to move on as a country.
“For me, my faith requires forgiveness, and so I must,” the letter read. “(Race) is the thorn in our collective side, the unmovable rock in our common path. For America to become whole, the thorns and rocks must be removed. The victims in this case are hopeful that in our plea for mercy for Mr. Emanuel and his family, we are taking an important step toward the goal of removing these obstacles to healing.”
During the trial Dunn was on the verge of tears recounting how close Emanuel came to striking his son with his truck. But Dunn, a grandfather like Emanuel, stressed the impact a prison sentence would have on Emanuel’s family.
“I know how valuable those grandpa years are,” Dunn said after reading his letter to the judge. “I assure the court we can live in peace as neighbors. Someone must take the first step toward peace.”
While Winsor said he gave the letter much consideration, he felt probation would be an insufficient sentence as it doesn’t serve to deter others from committing similar crimes.
More than 30 additional letters of support were submitted by Emanuel’s friends and family. There were also four advocates of Emanuel who addressed the court prior to sentencing.
Cedar Key Police Chief Edward Jenkins, who is Black, told the court he’d never had any negative experiences with Emanuel during their many encounters.
Defense attorney Darren James Johnson argued that Emanuel has numerous health issues and that instead of prison he should be ordered to complete “some form of racial sensitivity training.” He justified a light sentence by arguing that race had little to do with the incident, and that Emanuel’s attack was an isolated event.
“Race only became a factor after it began,” said Johnson.
Winsor was insistent that race was the proven motive for the attack.
“(Emanuel) didn’t think those people were about to commit a home invasion,” he said. “They had every right to be out there that day. He did it because of race.”
After the hearing, Emanuel and roughly two-dozen supporters congregated around his truck — a white Ford F-250 donning a Confederate flag.