Juan Paralez: Our leaders must confront domestic terrorism

Leaders at federal and state levels must take seriously the threat we face from domestic extremists.

By Juan Peralez / Herald Forum

On March 1, The New York Times published segments of a report submitted by the Biden administration to the U. S. Congress regarding racially violent extremists. The report includes three very significant concerns that the Biden administration wants Congress to address.

First, is the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, due to a heightened threat environment across the United States by violent extremists. Second, is the need for more resources to fight the growing problem of homegrown extremism. Finally, reviewing what law enforcement and intelligence agencies can do to combat domestic terrorism. I am excited and motivated that this concern has become a top priority for President Biden because it is long overdue and a needed investment for the public safety of everyone in our country.

Unfortunately, homegrown extremist organizations have a long history of espousing hate, violence and murder in this country. Without going back too far in history and elaborating on the many horrific acts committed by these groups, let us just consider acts of violence and mass shootings that have occurred in the last five years.

In June of 2015, neo-Nazi Dylann Roof opened fire with a .45 caliber handgun on people during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people and wounding thee more.

In August of 2017, Heather Hayes was killed by a motorist plowing his car into anti-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Va. The car was driven by 21-year-old white supremacist James Fields.

October, 2018, another mass shooting took place at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. The shooter killed 11 people and wounded six. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

August, 2019 we had the mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. White supremacist Patrick Crusius opened fire in the store with an AK-47 killing 23 and injuring 23 others. The shooter’s target were Mexicans that supposedly came to the U.S. and were taking jobs that belong to U.S. citizens.

This is a small sample of deadly violence by homegrown extremists that have occurred over the last few years. The most atrocious and subversive act committed in 2021 by these homegrown extremists was the attempted coup that occurred on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., and targeting Congress, confirming the FBI’s declaration that domestic terrorist organizations are the biggest threat to our democracy.

The big question is will Gov. Jay Inslee and our state Legislature act to support one of the Biden Administration’s top priorities. I believe that both are aware of the growing problem of domestic terrorism and concerned about the public safety of Washington residents and our country.

I believe that a task force on domestic terrorism is in order and must be created by state lawmakers, the Governor or both to address this issue for the sake of safety of all Washingtonians.

Juan Peralez is president of Unidos of Snohomish County.

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