On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard from several members of the Biden administration regarding the riots that took place on January 6. Given the discourse surrounding the historic debacle, much of the hearing steered toward discussions of white supremacy and white nationalism. After being called to testify, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas drew connections between the spread of white supremacist ideologies and the riots. Garland and Mayorkas also characterized the spread of white supremacy as domestic terrorism.
“Domestic violent extremists pose an elevated threat in 2021 and in the FBI’s view, the top domestic violent extremist threat we face comes from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Garland told lawmakers at the beginning of the hearing.
As the hearing developed, Republican Senator Richard Shelby attempted to shift the conversation. He asked Garland if the Department of Justice was investigating protests that occurred in Portland last summer with the same "vigor" that it is looking into the January 6 riots. In essence, Shelby is looking to compare the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer to an insurrection at the nation's capital.
“We don't care what the ideology is, violations of law are pursued and are prosecuted. I think it's fair to say that in my career as a judge, and in law enforcement, I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland told Shelby.
“There was an attempt to interfere with the fundamental passing of an element of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. And if there has to be a hierarchy of things that we prioritize, this would be the one we'd prioritize. It is the most dangerous threat to our democracy. That does not mean that we don't focus on other threats.”
The Department of Justice continues to work to arrest those involved in the riots that took place on January 6. Thus far, government officials have arrested and charged 400 individuals. Moving forward, the DOJ expects to shift its focus toward rooting out proponents of white nationalism from within their own ranks.
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