WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On the second anniversary of the El Paso shooting, senators heard from experts on domestic terror who are calling on Congress to enact new laws to make it easier for law enforcement and prosecutors to fight back against domestic terrorism.
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said the federal government isn’t doing enough to fight domestic terrorism.
“The nation is facing the highest levels of violence based on religion, race, ethnicity and politics in decades,” he said.
Witnesses testified about other growing threats on the two-year anniversary of the shooting in El Paso targeting Hispanic Americans.
“Approximately 60% of Asian adults have heard people express racist or racially insensitive views about people who are Asian,” said John Yang with the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Experts told lawmakers the rise of visible white supremacy is a problem and said social media is a big factor in radicalizing people and in helping to organize attacks.
Wade Henderson with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said the attack on the U.S. Capitol shows how dangerous the combination of radicalism and social media can be.
“We all saw a confederate flag unfurled in the Senate chamber that day,” said Henderson.
Senator Rob Portman said domestic terrorism is carried out by people from all sides of the political spectrum.
“It’s important we recognize all communities that have been impacted by domestic terrorism,” said Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Witnesses said the law needs to treat domestic terrorism as an independent crime.
“The absences of that category has led law enforcement to treat attacks committed by violent extremists at times as isolated, unconnected incidents,” said Paul Goldenberg with Rutgers University.
Witnesses said Congress has the power to fight domestic terrorism but may not have the political will.