Dems Call for Domestic Terror Hearings

Half a dozen Democratic senators are calling the murders at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church an apparent act of “domestic terrorism” and seeking hearings on “the threat posed by domestic terrorism and homegrown hate groups.” In a letter to Senate Judicary Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, the six senators said the South Carolina attack was distinct from other recent mass shootings because it “sought to intimidate African Americans and discourage them from asserting their rights.” The lawmakers cited the statutory definition of domestic terrorism, which includes acts meant to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population” and said the Senate “must address the reality of domestic terrorism spurred by racial hatred head-on.” The lawmakers also pointed out that a Senate Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on “hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism” following a 2012 mass shooting by a white supremacist at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. “It is clearly time for the Judiciary Committee to revisit this issue,” the senators said. “A hearing could investigate how domestic terrorist hate organizations recruit and spread their ideas; how they gain access to the tools that they use to commit violent acts; and how their members and followers reach the decision to commit murder.”

— Shane Harris