SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The mass shooting in El Paso, TX that killed 22 people on Saturday is the deadliest white supremacist attack in the United States in more than 50 years, according to Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
According to ABC News, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas said federal authorities are investigating the incident as an act of “domestic terrorism,” meaning the gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius had alleged intent of “coercing and intimidating a civilian population.”
This comes as investigators are examining a manifesto that surfaced online shortly before the shooting. They believe the document was written by Crusius and shows a possible “nexus” to a hate crime.
The manifesto said the El Paso shooting was a response to an “invasion of Hispanics coming across the southern border.” An article by the Associated Press said the document “railed against the dangers of mass immigration and warned that Hispanics will eventually take over the economy and government. The writer argued that attacking ‘low-security’ targets was a way to ‘fight to reclaim my country from destruction.'”
Crusius’ suspected manifesto is not the first to express white supremacist ideologies. Seth Brysk, Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League said some mass shooters have claimed inspiration from prior attacks.
In this case, the writer expressed support for the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting and manifesto.
“They are often looking to quote one another, citing prior instances of violence and mass shootings,” he said.
Data compiled by New America shows that since the 9-11 attack in New York nearly 18 years ago, there have been more deadly attacks motivated by far right-wing than jihadist ideology.
“The horrific events that took place in El Paso this weekend exposed something that has been building for years. White supremacy is a national security threat that demands a comprehensive and intense response that rivals the approach applied to countering other radical forms of violent extremism,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Just as the federal government mobilized to combat the threat posed by terrorist groups such as ISIS, we need to see that same energy applied to combating white supremacy, and we need to see it now.”
Brysk said in 2016, there was $50 million allocated to the Department of Homeland Security to address extremist threats. But currently, that number has been reduced to about $2 million.
“It’s a misnomer, sometimes, to call these people ‘lone wolves’ because there are a lot of factors to lead them to the point of radicalization,” he said. “In the case of El Paso, the perpetrator will drive all the way across the state for 9 hours in his car in order to commit mass murder.”
Social justice advocates said they are urging congress to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019, which would authorize domestic terrorism offices and units in DHS, DOJ, and the FBI. It would also require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess right-wing extremist threats and provide resources to assist state and local law enforcement to reduce these threats.
“We’re also pushing for the Domestic Terrorism DATA Act, which focuses on increasing the coordination, accountability and transparency of the federal government in collecting and recording data on domestic terrorism and the NO Hate Act – which seeks to improve local and state hate crime training, prevention, best practices, and data collection initiatives,” wrote the ADL in a press release Monday.
President Donald Trump condemned ‘racism, bigotry, and white supremacy‘ in a White House address Monday morning. ABC News reported he did not propose any major gun control legislation but said the nation needs to strengthen mental health laws and blamed ‘gruesome and grizzly video games for the glorification of violence in our society.’
“These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul,” he said.
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