Sheila Jackson Lee defends calling Jazmine Barnes murder hate crime: ‘There was no hysteria’
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is defending herself after her initial claims that a black child’s killing was a “hate crime” turned out to be false.
The Texas Democrat joined friends and family of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes at a Houston rally on Saturday, telling the crowd, “Do not be afraid to call this what it seems to be, a hate crime.”
A day earlier, Mrs. Lee called for a federal investigation into finding the person who opened fire on the child. Witnesses and Barnes’ family initially described the shooter as a white man in his forties and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez initially described the suspect as having pale skin and blue eyes, ABC News reported. Police, however, never said the murder was being investigated as a hate crime.
“Knowing the criteria, I believe that this should be looked at as a hate crime,” Mrs. Lee said during a press conference Friday. “We don’t want to have on the street someone who is willing to kill children and possibly kill them in the name of hate.”
News emerged Sunday that Eric Black Jr., 20, and Larry Woodruffe, 24, had been arrested in Barnes’ killing. Police told the Associated Press that both suspects are black. Mr. Woodruffe is the suspected shooter in what the police say was likely a case of mistaken identity.
Mrs. Lee said there was no harm in her characterization of the murder as a hate crime, partly because it didn’t create any undue “hysteria.”
Asked during a news conference Sunday whether her assumption was irresponsible, she responded, “Absolutely not.”
“Nothing is irresponsible when it comes to the loss of a precious 7- or 8-year-old,” Mrs. Lee said, Fox News reported. “The good thing was that in the comments that were made, there was no hysteria, there was no encouraging individuals to go out and find that person. It was nothing but orderly respect for the rule of law allowing our law enforcement to be able to do their tasks. And then now to call for an understanding that any violence against a child should not be the norm and that we should stand up against all violence.”