GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida man was found guilty on several counts of federal hate crime charges for a “racially motivated attack” on a group of Black men near the site of the 1923 Rosewood massacre.
David Emanuel, 62, of Cedar Key, was convicted by a jury in Gainesville last week, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Sept. 6, 2022, Emanuel approached six men who were surveying land along a public roadway in the Rosewood area. The rural Levy County town was once home to a prospering Black community, but it was destroyed by a white mob in Jan. 1923, during the Rosewood massacre.
According to the indictment, Emanuel hurled slurs at the group, including “[racial slur] get out of these woods” before driving his pickup truck at them. The vehicle came “within inches of” striking one of the men – who was identified in court documents as F.D.D. – and he had to dive out of the way. A witness testified that the man “nearly lost his life that day,” according to the DOJ.
A witness said Emanuel later admitted that he “came at those [expletives],” and that he “would have [expletive]d up all those Black [expletive],” according to the release. Video shown at the trial showed that during his arrest, Emanuel lamented that he was “getting treated like this [expletive] over a [expletive] [racial slur].”
In March, Emanuel was charged with attempting to injure F.D.D. and willfully intimidating the victims because of their race.
“Despicable, hate-fueled crimes such as these have no place in our state or country,” Jason R. Coody, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, said in a statement. “The violence directed toward these victims, based solely on their race, is abhorrent and will not be tolerated.”
The attack happened shortly before the centennial of the Rosewood massacre, which resulted in the deaths of six Black people, though some eyewitnesses claimed dozens more were killed. The survivors were forced to flee their homes, fearing for their lives.
Today, only a historical marker remains to tell the story of Rosewood, which reads, “those who survived were forever scarred.”
“As we marked 100 years since the horrific 1923 Rosewood Massacre, this verdict should send a strong message that violent, racially motivated conduct will not be tolerated in our society,” Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “The Justice Department is committed to aggressively enforcing our federal civil rights laws.”