Sen. Durbin, Rep. Schneider seek support for Domestic Terrorism legislation

January 16, 2020
In The News

Citing a deadly year and the threat of domestic terrorism, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) have reintroduced the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020–legislation to enhance federal abilities to crack down on domestic terror.

The bill would give the federal government the power to create offices dedicated specifically to fighting domestic terror and require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess the threat it poses. Training and resources would be provided to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in cracking down.

“Religious minorities and communities of color are at grave risk from the growing domestic terrorism threat facing the United States today,” Durbin, the Democratic Whip, said. “For too long, we have failed to take action to combat this deadly menace in our own backyard. The Federal government must step up to address this threat and ensure that more Americans are not violently attacked because of who they are or what they believe.”

Last year was rife with such incidents, including a mosque fire set in Escondido, Calif., a shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., that left one dead and three injured, and a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart that left 22 dead and 24 injured. The accused shooter in the Poway incident confessed to the mosque arson as well in a tirade posted to 8chan, wherein he made it clear he was inspired by anti-Semitism, racism, and previous terror incidents. Similarly, in the El Paso incident, the shooter posted a manifesto to 8chan wherein he denounced Hispanics and praised past shooters.

“Across the country, our communities are facing a rising tide of domestic terror, particularly from violent far-right extremists and white supremacist organizations. It is not enough to condemn hate, we need to equip law enforcement with the tools to identify threats and prevent acts of domestic terrorism,” Schneider said. “I am proud to partner with Senator Durbin on this legislation to improve coordination between federal agencies on monitoring dangerous domestic extremism and stopping violence.”

Endorsed by numerous civil rights organizations including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, Anti-Defamation League, and NAACP, among others, and backed by dozens of Democrats in the House and Senate, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to focus their resources on the most significant domestic terrorism threats and would codify the interagency task force known as the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. It would also create another interagency task force to investigate white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of uniformed services.

In a 2017 report, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security noted that white supremacists were responsible for more homicides and attacks from 2000 to 2016 than any other domestic extremist movement.

Last year, DHS noted in its Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence that, “White supremacist violent extremism, one type of racially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, is one of the most potent forces driving domestic terrorism.”