How Hate Crimes have Increased Domestic Terrorist Incidents
As the role of Department of Homeland Security has broaden, reshaped and to not to mention the current events with the resignation of the head of this department, this department has had it shares of trouble. Even with the decrease of terrorist crimes committed by non-US citizens on US soil, there have been a sharp increase of domestic terrorist attacks in the form of hate crimes, and unfortunately those are being committed by United States Citizens. Although hate crimes being committed in the United States is not anything news, after all there are many citizens who are still fighting for equality and liberty and justice for all, and still many who opposes that with every fiber of their being, and the latter of the two is what has I believe is one of the thoughts that is behind hate crimes.
Not only have there been a rise of domestic terrorist hate crimes, we are seeing a rise in the lone-wolf scenario where it is carried out by an individual rather than a group, making it harder for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spot threats before the attacks happen. Radicalization of US citizens for hate groups such as ISIS, for the most part contact starts online and most of the time it is not direct in your face contact and luring, and their end games is mostly to convince the sympathizer to join their ranks by coming to them, which is most likely in a foreign country, as with domestic hate crime, however this type of radicalization is done in the open, on social media, schools and so one and some would say is mostly covered by the United State own policy on free speech, and the attacks from such radicalization is usually in the form of one race against the other, and due to the turn in the recent administration running this country we have seen a sharp increase of hate crime and domestic terrorist attacks on People of Color by what is referred to as white nationalist or supremacist.
According to Bjelopera, (2016), Domestic terrorism cases differ from ordinary criminal activity in key ways. Most importantly, unlike ordinary criminals—who are often driven by self-centered motives such as profit and tend to opportunistically seek easy prey—domestic terrorists are driven by a cause or ideology, (pg. 1). Domestic terrorist are often your next-door neighbor who you speak to daily but had no idea he or she was stock piling weapons or even had those ideologies. More so, we are finding out that there are many who are also driven by these detrimental causes, and I used detrimental causes because when they carry out an attack their mission is not to “spread the good word” or about anything good, its about destruction, hate and instilling fear, and makes one think that it’s also about the faithful losing faith, hence the recent spike in hate crimes being carried out at churches and synagogues, and Mosques.
These type of domestic terrorist crimes are handled by the FBI who in the past faces domestic terrorist more to the like of Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber whose issues were more devised as anti-government related incidence, but now a days we are seeing domestic terrorist acts aimed at American citizens, whose initial aactions may involves constitutionally protected activity, such as rallies like the one held in Charlottesville, VA and even though authorities were prepared for what may be a contentious rally, could not have foreseen the escalation into violence that took place that day. The FBI was not a present force before nor during that rally and in my opinion should have been given the groups messages and the fact t that they knew protesters of such groups usually shows up, and not to mention the spike in such groups committing domestic hate crimes.
According to policies, “from the perspective of federal law enforcement, the FBI safeguards against cases focused solely on constitutionally protected activities. All FBI investigations have to be conducted for an authorized national security, criminal, or foreign
intelligence collection purpose. Investigations may not solely monitor the exercise of First Amendment rights” (Bjelopera, 2016, p. pg. 1), which in all actuality, may be the most pressing issue faced when dealing with domestic terrorist, because it’s their feeling or being constitutionally protected which makes them feel they can lawfully act this way. Further policies that the FBI hold that I feel hinders their efforts in fighting domestic terrorisms in the form of hate crimes is their vision of what they consider to be domestic terrorism threat as only looking into designated groups , an not individuals or groups that are not well known or other wise considered “not named”, and they do not focus on the broader motivations driving acts of domestic terrorism.
Classic example would be Dylan Roof the young white male who when into a Black church in South Carolina, sat with the church goers for bible study and then went on to kill nine members and wounding others. Now Dylan as we later found out was not part of any named domestic terrorist group, but as we took a look at his social life there were signs in his social media presence that he was becoming an extremist and had the FBI had policies that targeted hate speech, speeches focus on white supremacy in the United States, as their focus on coming the net for key word to alert them of radicalization from hate groups outside the United States, authorities could have keep and eye on Dylan, warnings could have been sent out to local Black churches and businesses to be on the lookout for suspicious activities, such as a young white male showing up at a Black church bible study as Dylan did put out a manifesto days before we walked in that church.
The church was an ideal target for this lone-wolf terrorist as they would be no weapons there, the people at that gathering would not have suspected him the least bit and would not have been on guard in their place of worship and the act could have been easily carried out with conventional weapons such as a gun, instead of a bomb which he already had access too.
In the past several years “domestic terrorism in America – acts that are plotted and executed on American soil, directed at US citizens, by actors based here – spiked dramatically. But hardly anyone noticed” (Neiwert, 2017), and have been carried out by lone-wolf types rather that large groups, which the FBI and Homeland Security have failed to stop in part because of their lack of re-evaluating what and who they considers to be terrorist especially when it comes to defining homegrown domestic terrorist. When calculating the numbers of domestic hate crimes committed this past decade “the large majority of these crimes were committed by rightwing extremists – some 115 in all, compared to 63 cases of Islamist-inspired domestic terror, and 19 cases of leftwing-extremist terrorism” (Neiwert, 2017), yet there have been no amendment or adjustment to FBI policies on profiling domestic terrorist. “If you listen to Fox News or right-wing radio talk shows like “Fortress of Faith,” you might believe the threat to Americans is coming almost exclusively from “ji-hadists,” particularly homegrown Muslim terrorists” (Hanley, 2015).
If congress and Homeland Security intend on winning the war on domestic terrorist in the form of hate crimes, there are five themes of focus that must be addressed, first the government must admit that the amount of anti-government activity and hate crime targets at specific races and religion has risen these last several years. “Second, a large number of those labeled as domestic terrorists do not necessarily use major terrorist tactics such as bombings or airplane hijackings. Third, domestic terrorists—much like their violent jihadist analogues—are often Internet savvy and use the medium as a resource for their operations. “ (Assessing Domesitc Terrorism’s Significance). The need to view these type of threats as decentralized threats that often-involved lone wolves looking to make a name for themselves or for the movement, or just plain angry at the world and not by individuals who follows no one in particular, those being the most dangerous type because you never know what may set them off.
Because lone wolves aren’t always associated with terrorist organization or hate groups it is will be a task for the FBI to distinguish an angry citizen from your next domestic terrorist, however keeping track of hate speeches and having levels of determining factors as to whether continuous surveillance of said individual is needed. On a good note however, lone wolf attacks often lack in operational capabilities to carry out large elaborate attacks due to the lack of help through networking or their resistant to joining training camps for fear of being “watched by the government”. “To attempt to overcome these issues, the FBI asserted in 2009 that it was “beginning an extensive study on identified lone offenders to come up with indicators and behavior predictors that investigators can use to assess suspects” (Assessing Domesitc Terrorism’s Significance, p. 57). The FBI must also acknowledge the fact that most lone wolf attacks have come by way of legally purchased firearm and often by a person who owns a collection of weapons, which should send out red flags considering the state of climate in which this country is in.
As we see that the weapon of choice for these domestic terrorists are assault rifles and guns the United States government need to re-evaluate its guns laws, a fight that unfortunately US citizens are losing because some feel it is more important to have the right to bear arms than the right to limit that amount. Anyone owning above what should be considered a “moderate” amount of weapons should be watched if additional factors are in place such as they post a lot of hateful speeches or anti-government dialog, or manifestos about the ills of other races, religion and our government, or if they belong to a well know hate group, even if they display symbols that are normally associated with hate groups, these are the one that one day ends up in Charlottesville, VA running over protesters with their cars or shooting up a school, assembly or place of worship.
Another new factor for the FBI and intelligence surveillance would be the new administration plan to allow all form of speech to be protectd as “free speech” on college and university campuses even though those sorts of arenas have become breathing ground for incidences of domestic terrors in the form of hate crimes, as we have seen spikes in these types of incidences on campuses across the country. If campuses and universities are going to allow these sorts of group to freely influence young adults, I feel the responsible thing for the FBI commit to is keep surveillance on those who attend these assemblies whether as a supporter of protester, and to come up policies in place to monitor their action after especially through social media, and their online present, when accessed through means provided by the university or school such as their computers, without violating their private information. The defunding of the “Peer to Peer (P2P) program, which funded university students to create media campaigns to counter extremist narratives” (Jackson, 2019, p. 3) , will definitely aid in the spread of hate speeches and crimes on campuses now that anyone will be allowed to assemble and address students no matter the message they are bringing to the campus.
Since most lone wolf domestic terrorist attack happens on a smaller scale, the burden to stop or re-act to an incidence often fall at the hand of local authorities who would be the first to respond and after assessing the situation and deciding whether or not to get the FBI involved. This led to some expert suggesting that other nontraditional law enforcement actions be looked at and taken into consideration One suggestion “to address the gaps in capability, the most effective path for the federal government would be to strengthen, broaden and sustain this local and non-governmental capacity, researchers found”. As we learn previously that DHS, is looking at way that federal agencies such as FEMA work closer with local and state law enforcement to help with immigration issues, they should consider having the FBI work with local enforcement when it comes to local citizens who may pose a threat of being a homegrown terrorist as this would be their first line of defense in preventing hate crime incidences. Community education and public-private partnership are also great resources that have been under- used in these scenarios, which is something DHS should re consider, as these are ones that most likely spot a potential terrorist or be affected by their actions.
One of the evaluations I was to conduct in this research paper was the success of the U.S. Department Homeland Security responding to the incident, in this case, their response to the shooting at South Carolina’ s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, by lone wolf self-proclaimed white nationalist Dylan Roof, I would say the response was the normal procedures regarding these incidences, gather facts about the suspect and try to find out the reason for the attack and to try to apprehend the individual and due to the fact that he was caught some me say it was successful but, other may not feel the same especially since his tirade began days before with his online manifesto, that should have raised red flags had there been some sort of policies in place that included monitoring online surveillance and looking adopting profiles that could be used to spot potential “lone wolf” attackers. The response by local law enforcement however was not normal considering they were hunting for a homegrown terrorist, an individual who committed a hate crime, but was a normal response to a white American committing a hateful racist act, as he was treated with kindness after being found with even the arresting officers buying him lunch at a Burger King before turning bringing him in. This kind of soft response to such a devastating crime is another factor law enforcement must work on, as it loses the community faith in its law enforcement ability or want to protect certain group or races, and also begs to question whose life and right should be of more consideration to law enforcement.