Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed police on Thursday at a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest, killing five officers and wounding seven others. Before he was killed by a bomb robot, Johnson told police he was upset at white people and that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.
But Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told CBS’s John Dickerson on Sunday “it’s still relatively early” to label Johnson’s actions a hate crime.
“You said there’s no link to a terrorist organization here, but the shooting in Dallas was by any definition terrorism and a hate crime, wasn’t it?” Dickerson asked.
“Well, there’s still an investigation being conducted by the Dallas police department and the FBI supported by many resources from the local government and the federal government,” Johnson responded. “So it’s still relatively early.”
“We do know from Chief Brown that this individual told the hostage negotiator he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers, I think that’s almost a quote,” he continued. “This is obviously a terrible act that appears to be targeted at police officers, particularly white police officers.”
Johnson then closed by defending the broader BLM and law enforcement communities, saying the shooter “is not reflective of the larger movement to bring about change that was out in Dallas to peacefully demonstrate, and those who engage in excessive force in the law enforcement are not reflective of the larger law enforcement community.”
But why couldn’t Johnson just come out and say that yes, the shooter’s actions were a hate crime?
According to the FBI’s definition, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
Seems pretty clear cut, but then again so do the shooter’s motives, which President Obama seems to believe are “hard to untangle.”