BALTIMORE (February 25, 2019)—In the face of a rising climate of hate crimes targeting African Americans and communities of color, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization will issue letters next week to both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security calling for hearings on domestic terrorism, and for transparency regarding the ways in which Black activists are tracked and monitored by government agencies
“The recent arrest of an active duty member of the US Coast Guard who stashed weapons with the intent of engaging in domestic terrorism targeting African American elected officials and progressive leaders is troubling,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
“Sadly, many with racist beliefs have been emboldened by a national climate in which our nation’s highest office sanctions dog whistle politics and xenophobic rhetoric. This recent incident is unnerving. Now is the time to act to ensure our communities are awakened to these potential dangers and protected,” he added.
Civil rights activists believe there is a growing sentiment that many are taking the call to "make America great again" as a new rallying cry for white supremacy and justification to engage in violence. A recent report; shows that hate is growing. According to the report, white nationalist groups “jumped by almost 50 percent,” in 2018 and overall, hate crimes and attacks on African Americans have increased since Donald Trump took office.
A recent New York Times story reports that "in 2017, hate crimes, generally defined as criminal acts motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, or gender, increased by about 17 percent nationally, to 7,175 from 6,121 (the number of police agencies reporting crimes also rose, by about 6 percent); in...Virginia, they were up by nearly 50 percent, to 202 from 137.”
Last year, a Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to several outspoken opponents including former “President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Rep. Maxine Waters.” Congresswoman Waters remains a focal point of numerous death threats due to her refusal to cower to Trump’s belligerent attacks.
For the African American community, domestic terrorism has a long and brutal history. The images associated with blackface, the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi Germany and Confederate memorabilia represent symbols of hate, brutality, lynching and domestic terrorism.
Another key aspect of the NAACP's legislative focus includes investigating the ways in which Black activists are tracked and monitored by government agencies. The goal is to ensure there are no violations of their civil rights.
Several news stories report a number of Black activists were tracked due to their involvement in protests against police brutality associated with the police killings of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson; and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
Last year Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a Freedom of Information Lawsuit regarding DHS and FBI’s surveillance of activists which produced a mysterious “race paper” being referred to in redacted documents. A copy of this “race paper” was produced to the groups but it was nearly totally redacted and revealed no information.
Since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, at least 5 prominent activists have died under mysterious circumstances including the son of Melissa McKinnies, whose son Danye Jones was found hanged to death in a tree on her property.
In 2014 Ferguson activist DeAndre Joshua was found shot in the head in a burning car the night protesters rioted due to a grand jury’s failure to indict white police officer in Michael Brown's death. Two years later, activist Darren Seals was found shot in the head in a burning car.
The NAACP organized 110 years ago as an anti-lynching organization continues to support anti-hate legislation including the Senate bill introduced by Senators Kamala Harris, Corey Booker and Tim Scott.
“It’s time for our nation to come to grips with the unjust parts of its history and what that history means to Black people. It’s only then that we can begin the process of moving forward and purge ourselves of the idea of race and racism,” stated Johnson.