Philly-area Black Hebrew Israelites leader speaks out about Jersey City Shooting

Police officers arrive to the scene where an active shooting was taking place in Jersey City, New Jersey on December 10, 2019. - One officer was shot when two gunmen with a long rifle opened fire in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the afternoon of December 10, 2019 , according to two officials. Two suspects were barricaded in a convenience store, the officials said. One officer was being taken to a nearby hospital.
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Earlier this week, there was a deadly attack on a Jersey City kosher supermarket. Multiple outlets have reported that one of the two assailants involved in shooting appeared to be linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. 

The New York Times reported that David N. Anderson, 47, was allegedly involved in a Black Hebrew Israelite movement. It is not clear what his involvement and status was within the group. 

It is also not clear if the other assailant Francine Graham, 50, was also involved. 

CNN reported that followers of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement are black people who believe they are true descendants of the biblical Jews. 

The Black Hebrew Israelite movement is labeled a hate group and has a strong presence in the Philly area. It was reported that they have been active in Philly for over three decades. 

Inquirer.com interviewed the leader of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, Yahanna. There are a sect of the movement and condemned the shooting. It was reported that the organization’s chapters in Philly and elsewhere are nonviolent, despite their rhetoric. 

Commanding General Yahanna of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, spoke to Inquirer.com about the incident. He told them that he does not know Anderson. Yahanna’s real name is John Lightbourne, and he claimed that if Anderson was affiliated with the group, he would have “learned the opposite” of violence. 

“Everybody expects us to be violent because the things we are talking about are so horrible, what has happened to us in America,” Yahanna stated. 

Yahanna added, “They just assume we’re going to be street thugs and criminals. We pull brothers out of prison and off the street and turn their lives around, have them open a Bible.” He believes his movement is a scapegoat and, “Hebrew Israelites are the most unviolent people out of the entire black community… They don’t go to jail, don’t sell drugs, they don’t go out shooting people. … We are totally against that kind of activity. It doesn’t help us one bit to go out and shoot somebody.”

It was reported that Yahanna’s group is not connected to mainstream Judaism. 

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal did not confirm Anderson’s link to the group and told outlets that the situation is still under investigation. 

This is not the first time that the group has been under fire. Earlier this year, Black Hebrew Israelites went viral after a video of high school student, Nick Sandmann, mocking a Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, surfaced. 

A longer version of the video showed the Black Hebrew Israelites using profanity and mocking a group of teens; although the teens did also seem to be taunting the group.

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