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Man convicted in racially motivated attack at Rosewood massacre site sentenced to 1 year in prison

David Emanuel Sr. talks to his supporters outside of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville.
Gabriel Velasquez Neira
/
WUFT News
David Emanuel Sr. talks to his supporters outside of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville, Fla., after Judge Allen Winsor sentenced Emanuel to a total of six years and six days with two years of supervised release Oct. 19, 2023.

A white man was sentenced on six counts of hate crimes for attempting to run over Historian Marvin Dunn, his son and four other Black men who were surveying Dunn’s Rosewood property to build a memorial for the massacre.

A federal judge sentenced a white man convicted of attempting to run down six Black men at the site of the Rosewood massacre last year to a single year in prison Thursday.

David Allen Emanuel, 62, appeared solemn and reserved as Judge Allen Winsor delivered Emanuel’s sentence on six counts of hate crimes for attempting to run over Historian Marvin Dunn, his son and four other Black men who were surveying Dunn’s Rosewood property to build a memorial for the massacre.

David Emanuel
Levy County Sheriff's Office
David Emanuel (Levy County Sheriff's Office)

Winsor sentenced Emanuel to 12 months plus one day in federal prison for each of the six charges and allowed the sentences to run concurrently. The Justice Department had sought a “substantial” prison term of between five and six years.

Emanuel, a retired clam farmer in Levy County in north-central Florida, must surrender to report to prison no later than noon on Jan. 2, the judge said. He was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release after he finished his prison term.

Prior to the attack in September 2022, Emanuel shouted racial slurs at the group from his white Ford F-250 – calling Dunn a "f----ing n----r" – and demanded the men leave the area.

After Dunn responded they were parked on a public road, Emanuel sped off only to return minutes later — his truck charging toward the group. Dunn’s son, Frederick Douglas Dunn, leaped into the grass, saving himself by mere inches. A jury convicted Emanuel over the summer.

“I’m relieved this is all over with, and I think that it’s fair,” Dunn said.

The front of a white Ford pickup truck with a confederate flag license plate.
Gabriel Velasquez Neira
/
WUFT News
David Emanuel Sr. backs out of his spot at the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville, Fla., after being sentenced to a total of six years and six days with two years of supervised release Oct. 19, 2023.

At the hearing Thursday, family and supporters of Emanuel filled the defense side of the lopsided courtroom. Muffled sobs emanated from some as the judge read the sentence.

“I do see he’s provided a lot of value to the community,” Winsor said. “I don’t think he’s going to do something like this again ... but there’s a need for general deterrence, and it’s clear he did it because of race.”

Dunn, 83, and his son sat somber on the opposite side, flanked by a handful of others.

In an interview, the elder Dunn said the attack was the worst racial upheaval he's experienced since the Civil Rights era, but he and his son drove from their homes in Miami with a message of forgiveness.
 

Dunn submitted a letter last week on behalf of the other victims to the judge requesting mercy be shown to Emanual, not solely for him and his family, but to move on as a country.
 
“For me, my faith requires forgiveness, and so I must,” the letter read. “[Race] is the thorn in our collective side, the unmovable rock in our common path. For America to become whole, the thorns and rocks must be removed. The victims in this case are hopeful that in our plea for mercy for Mr. Emanuel and his family, we are taking an important step toward the goal of removing these obstacles to healing.”
 

Historian Marvin Dunn, left, and his son Frederick Dunn, right, stand outside of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville.
Gabriel Velasquez Neira
/
WUFT News
Historian Marvin Dunn, left, and his son Frederick Dunn, right, stand outside of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville, Fla., after David Emmanuel's sentencing in Oct. 19, 2023.

When Dunn testified at trial, he was on the precipice of tears recounting how close Emanuel came to striking his son with his three-ton truck. But Dunn, a grandfather like Emanuel, stressed the impact a prison sentence would have on Emanuel’s family.
 
“I know how valuable those grandpa years are,” Dunn said after reading his letter to the judge. “I assure the court we can live in peace as neighbors. Someone must take the first step toward peace.”

While Winsor said he gave the letter much consideration, he felt probation would be an insufficient sentence as it doesn’t serve to deter others from committing similar crimes.
 
In addition to Dunn’s letter, more than 30 letters of support were submitted by Emanuel’s friends and family requesting a light sentence. There were also four advocates of Emanuel who addressed the court prior to sentencing.

Cedar Key Police Chief Edward Jenkins, a Black man, told the court that he’d never had any negative experiences with Emanuel during their many encounters.

 
The courtroom stifled with tension as the sentencing took over an hour to complete.
 

People walk out of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville.
Gabriel Velasquez Neira
/
WUFT News
People walk out of the U.S. Federal Court House in Gainesville, Fla., after David Emanuel Sr.'s sentencing in Gainesville, Florida Oct. 19, 2023.

The defense argued that Emanuel has numerous health issues and that instead of prison he should be ordered to complete “some form of racial sensitivity training,” as punishment. He justified a light sentence by arguing that race had little to do with the incident, and that Emanuel’s attack was an isolated event.
 
“Race only became a factor after it began,” said Emanuel’s defense attorney, Darren James Johnson.

Winsor, appointed by former president Donald Trump in 2019, was insistent throughout the hearing that race was the proven motive for the attack.
 
“[Emanuel] didn’t think those people were about to commit a home invasion,” he said. “They had every right to be out there that day. He did it because of race.”
 
Outside court, Emanuel and roughly two-dozen of his supporters congregated around his truck – a white Ford F-250 donning a Confederate flag, the exact likeness of the vehicle used in the attack.
 
In an interview Monday, Emanuel said he plans to sell his house and move to another part of town to remain close to his son’s grave.

“I'm not living across from a Rosewood memorial that thousands of Black people are going to come to," he said.
 
When the prosecution read that quote to the court, Dunn later said he was disheartened to hear it.
 
“I’d rather work with him as neighbors,” Dunn said.

____

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at lemnusj@freshtakeflorida.com. You can donate to support our students here.

Updated: October 20, 2023 at 10:13 AM EDT
This story was updated with corrections in the 17th and 18th paragraphs, that letters of support were submitted by friends of the defendant, in addition to the victims’ letter asking for leniency, and that the police chief said he never had negative experiences with the defendant, not the victim.
Jack Lemnus/Fresh Take Florida