Elizabeth Warren has released a characteristically detailed campaign plan to counter white nationalist violence in the USA, whose multi-pronged approach includes directing the DoJ to be more vigorous in pursuing white nationalist groups (and to lay off the Cointelpro-style surveillance of groups that advocate for protections for racialized people); centralized data collection on white nationalist violence; FBI assistance in local investigations of white nationalist groups; global collaboration to disrupt international white terrorist organizations; purges of Nazis in the US military; using background checks to deny firearms to members and supporters of violent white nationalist groups; reforming school curriculum to head off white nationalist trends; creating an interagency task-force to combat white nationalism; and to "combat violent extremist content on the Internet in a manner consistent with freedom of expression" (a neat trick if she can manage it).
Warren's plan also includes a suite of protections for racialized people, including separating law enforcement and immigration enforcement; ending racial prejudice in prosecutions and sentencings; fighting racial bias in policing; and reforming the "qualified immunity" doctrine so that police who commit bias crimes can be prosecuted.
There's more! Warren will also charter the CDC to investigate the public health impact of white nationalist violence, and fund the DOJ's Community Relations Service to "help communities prevent and address the aftermath of bias attacks" (Trump has cut funding to this office).
I am a donor to both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders's campaigns for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election.
The Department of Justice has at times cited lack of statutory authority for its unwillingness to act against white nationalists and violent domestic extremists. But we don't need new laws. In fact, the truth is that our government has a long and shameful history of abusing existing authorities to target activists and communities of color engaged in peaceful protest and acts of civil disobedience. In recent years, that has included surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists and Native protestors at Standing Rock, infiltrating mosques and sting operations directed at Muslim Americans, and even investigating community groups who opposed Trump's separation of families at the border. Even programs for Countering Violent Extremism have too often harmed law-abiding members of minority communities. And with his aggressive prosecution of his political opponents, Donald Trump has made it clear that any new such laws would be open to abuse.
There are at least 50 offenses related to domestic terrorism already on the books. There are also other statutes that can be used to prosecute white nationalist extremists, including hate crimes and organized crime laws. We have the laws. What we lack is the will to prioritize investigating and prosecuting these crimes.
In a Warren administration, combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security — we'll use the investigative and prosecutorial resources of these Departments to go after any white nationalist crime involving a threat to life or associated with a broader white nationalist organization that has previously engaged in violence.
Fighting Back Against White Nationalist Violence [Elizabeth Warren/Medium]
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