June 17, 2021 brought with it the six-year marker of the horrendous killing of nine members of Charleston, SC’s historic Mother Emanuel AME Church by convicted killer and white nationalist Dylann Roof.
The nine Mother Emanuel shooting victims, the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney (41), Cynthia Graham Hurd (54), Susie Jackson (87), Ethel Lance (70), Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor (49), Tywana Sanders (26), Rev. Daniel Simmons (74), Rev. Sharonda Singleton (45) and Myra Thompson (59), welcomed the soon-to-be murderer Roof into their Wednesday night Bible Study fellowship.
Immediately, many activists and political pundits called the multiple murders an act of white domestic terrorism, though many on the political Right refused to use such language, and even though Roof told authorities that he killed the church members in hopes that his actions would spark a race war.
Though the FBI has since declared white domestic terrorism America’s number one threat, apologists for the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol Building insurrection vehemently disagree, claiming their violent attempt to overturn a democractic U.S. election with two bombs planted at the Capitol and calls for the killing of certain members of Congress, was merely a tourist event with no violence or terrorism involved.
Congressman Andrew Clyde compared video footage of the Jan. 6 mob to a “normal tourist visit.”
However, those “normal tourists” attacked law enforcement officers who were doing their job, defending the Capitol. The rioters Clyde and others dismissed as the real victims of that day, injured 140 Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers, with one of those officers dying the day after the attack, and two dying by suicide shortly thereafter.
Survivors of that event, which some label a clear example of white domestic terrorism, are still dealing with the trauma of the event. Metropolitan Police officer Mike Fanone, who was attacked by Clyde’s “normal tourists,” told U.S. lawmakers that he is still traumatized by the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
The same can be said for family members of those slain in Mother Emanuel or in the melee of the Charlottesville, VA’s 2017 “Unite the Right” rally where far right extremists violently attacked a multi-racial coalition of peceful protestors objecting to “Unite the Right” rally participants’ racist chants and objectives.
During that event, one white nationalist, James Alex Fields Jr., turned his car into a lethal weapon, driving it into crowds of protestors, injuring several, and killing peace activist Heather Heyer.
Sprinkled in between the 2015 Mother Emanuel slaying and the Jan 6, 2021 insurrection have been countless additional attacks on Black and Brown people by individuals with white nationalist beliefs and/or ties.
Anti-Asian hate crimes, for example, increased by nearly 150% in 2020, with several people nationally, including Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of demographic data and policy research nonprofit AAPI Data, attributing that uptick at least in part to former President Donald Trump’s administration’s “incendiary, racist rhetoric about the coronavirus.”
“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,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told U.S. lawmakers in May.
Let the People Be Heard
The Defender Network asked “The People” to offer their views on whether white domestic terrorism is more prevalent now, or less.
“More. Increasingly since 2016 election according to most sources… even the FBI has stated so if I’m not mistaken.” (Rev. Dr. Earle Fisher)
“More. White domestic terrorism has quietly become ubiquitous to the American experience since the eighties. From a black perspective white terrorism has been going on since the 1600’s.” (Sentwali Olushola)
“If you center on the fact that “terrorists” work from a political ideology and agenda (upholding and advancing white supremacy), then we could also name the previous president (Trump), his administration, the people disseminating alternative facts about the insurrection and invasion of the capital, the ongoing militarization of the police state and the violence it exacts on Black people, gentrification of our neighborhoods, violence against Black Trans Women, (I could go on), as emblematic of the White domestic terrorism about which you ask.” (Rev. Ronald Galvin)
More, and from the lack of common sense gun laws, more to come. (Ingrid Traylor Williams)