Timothy Caughman, 66, loved collecting celebrity autographs and recycled bottles and cans for living.
If his Twitter profile is any indication, he was a lively man who loved the occasional celebrity run-ins that come with living in New York City. He showed significant interest in pop culture, stood in line to vote in November and mourned the recent death of legendary guitarist Chuck Berry. His profile picture shows him standing happily next to Beyoncé, his arm tucked around her.
Caughman wanted to visit California some day. Sadly, he never got the chance.
A self-identified white supremacist named James Harris Jackson stabbed him with a sword in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Caughman wasn't known to his killer. The poor man was just doing his job — collecting recyclable goods on a pavement — when the blade pierced his chest.
His only crime was being black.
Shortly after the incident, Jackson walked into the Midtown South precinct station and told the police he traveled from Baltimore with sole intention to kill black men. Apparently, he picked New York City because it is the “media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement.”
It was an obvious hate crime.
The 28-year-old randomly targeted a man because he was African American and later admitted to the cops he “penned a manifesto about his racist views” and was particularly disturbed by “black men who were in romantic relationships with white women.”
“The attack was clearly racially motivated,” said NYPD Assistant Chief Bill Aubry. “It’s well over 10 years he has been harboring these feelings of hate towards male blacks.”
As the authorities later confirmed, Caughman, who was severely injured, managed to make it to the Midtown South Precinct just a block away. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.
He was a fighter, but instead of focusing on that, the mainstream media responded by digging up the victim’s old and irrelevant criminal record and referring to the murderer as an Army vet, instead of, you know, a white supremacist who took an innocent life.
In fact, The New York Daily News went as far as to mention a 2014 incident where a black man traveled to New York from Baltimore and assassinated Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
The reference was not just confusing and superfluous, but also highly inappropriate.
Instead of mourning the loss of an innocent life, the victim’s name was smeared and scrutinized. The fact that he lived in “a transitional housing facility… a place for homeless people to stay, generally after they have suffered a crisis” somehow became an important thing to highlight in every single story and his “11 prior arrests, including for marijuana, assault, resisting arrest and menacing,” became the matter of utmost importance.
What’s more disturbing is that this behavior is nothing new — remember how Freddie Gray was accused of causing his own injuries or how Trayvon Martin’s police death was justified by a picture that showed him giving the middle finger?
Here are a few tweets from Caughman’s Twitter timeline that will shed a better light at his life than anyone else has been able to.
Standing on line waiting to vote I love america?????? pic.twitter.com/jVAeLXtUAq— timothy caughman (@timrock715) November 8, 2016
I voted today check out my voter stamp ?????? pic.twitter.com/s9E13hIbok— timothy caughman (@timrock715) November 9, 2016
The police have charged Jackson with second-degree murder and are working to “add a hate crime or racially motivated crime” in order to make the charge that of first-degree murder. The cops believe he intended to commit more crimes but turned himself in after surveillance footage captured his face and his photo was shown on the news.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters