As appalled Americans watched violence by white terror groups unfold in Charlottesville this weekend, the Illinois State Senate decided to do something about it.
On Sunday the Illinois State Senate sprang into action and passed a measure that officially designates neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations, like storm Front and the Ku Klux Klan, as terror groups.
“It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend,” Illinois State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), a sponsor of the bill, told The Chicago Tribune. “They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today.”
It’s about time we finally called what happened in Charlottesville by its true name: Domestic terrorism.
As American News X reported earlier, the violence started Friday night when torch-wielding white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia chanting, “You will not replace us.” Fights broke out as they clashed with counter protesters. Police declared it an unlawful assembly and hastened the departure of both sets of protesters with blasts of pepper spray. On Saturday, the violence escalated as white supremacists gathered in Emancipation Park for a “Unite the Right” rally. Gun-toting militia members came and surrounded the park, supposedly to preserve order along with the heavy police presence. They did a terrible job, but at least no bullets were fired. Instead, the white terror groups used a different weapon.
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) August 12, 2017
Perhaps in response to gun safety advocates who call for registering and requiring licenses for firearms as we do with cars, the deadly weapon deployed by these white supremacists turned out to be a caravan of cars. Video footage shows protesters screaming and fleeing in terror as the drivers plowed through the crowd. One proved particularly vicious and drove to kill. His victim, Charlottesville paralegal and social justice activist Heather Heyer, died and 34 others were injured.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 14, 2017
Even Fox News had to acknowledge this was an “intentional, collaborative attack,” though they stopped short of calling out the “Unite the Right” organizers as the white terror groups they are.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 12, 2017
Although nothing can bring Heyer back, at least her loved ones may receive justice. USA Today reports a Charlottesville Judge denied bail to her attacker, James Alex Fields Jr.
She was attending the protest in Charlottesville with other paralegals from work when a car crashed into the crowd https://t.co/I7Ll4tcaj5
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 13, 2017
With public pressure mounting, ignoring white terror groups may soon come to an end.
U.S. leaders have long taken a tough stance towards radicalized Muslims, yet they’ve remained curiously silent when it comes to the white terror groups in our midst. The PBS News Hour reports an average of 300 violent attacks per year in the U.S. by people influenced by right-wing terror groups. Yet we still don’t even officially recognize violent white supremacist hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Storm front as terrorists.
But it appears ignoring white terror groups is about to come to an end. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — widely seen as a racist himself — went on ABC’s Good Morning America and conceded James Fields’ stunning act of vehicular manslaughter “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.” Although Sessions still defended Donald Trump’s appalling “both sides” comments and only applies a very narrow definition of terrorism, it’s a start.
“We [the Department of Justice] are pursuing it … in every way that we can make a case,” Sessions said.
“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is unequivocally an unacceptable, evil attack. Terrorism investigators from the FBI are working on the case as well as civil rights division FBI agents.”
Sessions and his GOP colleagues may drag their feet, as the Republican Party relies on the white terrorist vote. But now public pressure at least forces them to pay lip service towards prosecuting white supremacist terror groups.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions just called the Charlottesville attack domestic terrorism pic.twitter.com/Wy67sQ5dI1
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 14, 2017
Meanwhile, we need to keep the pressure on the White House. Vox‘s Dara Lind warns Donald Trump’s “both sides” statements validates white terror groups. because he doesn’t condemn white supremacists the way he condemns Islamic terrorists. “It might seem as if he’s not taking aside,” Lind explains. “But by doing that, he is taking a side. He’s giving succor to the people who engaged in hate in Charlottesville over the weekend and refusing comfort to those who live in fear of what that hate would mean for them.”
Featured image: Video screen grab | Vox | Via YouTube