5 June 2014, 20:45

US Justice Dept refocuses on domestic terrorism as hate crimes swell in number

Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, is escorted by police in an elementary school parking lot in Overland Park, Kan. Cross, 73, accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center.

Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, is escorted by police in an elementary school parking lot in Overland Park, Kan. Cross, 73, accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center.

Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, is escorted by police in an elementary school parking lot in Overland Park, Kan. Cross, 73, accused of killing three people in attacks at a Jewish community center.

The Justice Department is reconvening a committee to continue addressing domestic terrorism threats after it ceased to exist in the wake of 9/11 tragedy, which immediately shifted the Justice department focus on to international terrorism.

The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was created almost 20 years ago in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing to facilitate ties between different divisions of the Justice Department.

The committee is comprised of US attorneys, members of the National Security Division, and members of the FBI. Threats from abroad will also be addressed, US government officials reassure, but terror-related issues inside the US borders should be equally addressed. Among the typical causes cited are antigovernment animosity and the racial issue:

"We must concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from antigovernment animus to racial prejudice," Holder said.

The American Civil Liberties Union will work with the Justice Department to ensure that new policies do not consist in profiling suspects based on race or other protected characteristics.

"Attorney General Holder’s announcement that the new task force will focus on evidence of antigovernment animus and racial intolerance raises concerns that it could be a sweeping mandate to monitor and collect controversial speech," said Lee Rowland, a staff attorney at the ACLU.

Crackdown on right-wing agenda and nationalist thinking in particular may raise concerns with the conservatives feeling skeptical about current Obama's policies.

In 2009 there was already a similar case, as then-Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano headed an intelligence assessment that envisaged closer scrutiny of "right-wing extremism," including some antiabortion and anti-immigration groups, gun owners, and recent war veterans. Back then the conservative sector was infuriated.

At this point inter-US racist and gender-related 'hate' crime rates have hiked, making the Justice Department single out a separate subdivision to investigate the worrying incidence.

The move comes in the wake of events such as the shooting spree at a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas City, Mo., in April, which left overall three people killed, or a shooting that killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.

Moreover, the most recent seven killings in the shooting spree of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara got people talking about gender-based violence in the US in depth.

Notably, gender violence is more like an umbrella term that may comprise anything from threats, battery to marital rape, harassment and sexual assault.

The problem goes beyond individuals and gender violence, though. New York City introduced a stop-and-frisk law, allowing police officers to stop and search anyone they suspect might be trampling on the law. 5 million stops have been registered since the law took effect, and the overwhelming number of them were minorities, namely Afro-Americans, Bob Beckel is a liberal Democratic strategist, pointed out to USA Today.

The issue of race-based bias also hits close to home with the black unemployment rate in April reaching above 11% in the US. Hence disproportionate distribution of jobs and poor access to material benefits, which puts one minority at odds with another one, argues Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist.

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