Peters Examines Impact of White Supremacist, Faith-Based and Anti-Government Domestic Terrorism Threat on American Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing to examine how the rise of domestic terrorism, in particular white supremacist, faith-based, and anti-government extremist violence, has impacted communities across the United States. The hearing was the first of two Peters is convening this week to continue examining the threat of domestic terrorism and needed actions by the federal government to address this significant homeland security threat. The Senator will convene Part II of the hearing on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at 10:15AM.

“In the last few years, our nation has witnessed horrific acts of violence, such as the massacres at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a shopping center in El Paso that targeted Black, Jewish and Latino Americans, respectively. Even more recently, we have seen rising violent attacks on Asian Americans, and a growing anti-government movement that planned and executed an attack on the seat of our democracy earlier this year,” said Peters during his opening statement.

Peters continued: “Communities across the country live in fear that they could be attacked or murdered on the street, in their place of worship, or while going about their daily lives, just because of who they are. I am particularly concerned that these attacks, along with the growing climate of hateful rhetoric, intimidation and targeted violence that we are seeing across the country, are a signal of something worse to come. If the federal government does not take swift action to address this festering threat, I fear we will see more tragic attacks and lose more lives to domestic violent extremism.” 

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here.

“To watch video of Senator Peters’ first round of questions, click here. To watch video of his second round of questions, click here. 

To watch video of Senator Peters’ closing remarks, click here.

The Committee heard from experts representing faith-based, civil rights, and academic and policy research organizations on how violent attacks inspired by white supremacist, faith-based and anti-government ideologies have adversely impacted communities across the nation. At the hearing, Peters raised the need for the federal government to better track data related to domestic terrorism and prioritize their resources and personnel to tackle this grave threat. He also raised concerns about how social media platforms are used to amplify and spread misinformation and hateful rhetoric, which has contributed to real-world violence across communities.

The hearing builds on Peters’ longstanding efforts to ensure the federal government is tackling the rising domestic terrorism threat. Earlier this year, Peters convened a hearing to examine the role of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and what changes are needed to strengthen efforts to protect civil rights and accurately assess domestic terrorism threats facing communities across the country. Peters also released a bipartisan report on the security, planning, and response failures related to the violent and unprecedented attack on the Capitol by domestic terrorists on January 6th. Last Congress, He secured the expansion of a successful grant program to help houses of worship and other nonprofits protect their facilities from potential attacks. In 2019, Peters helped convene the committee’s first domestic terrorism hearing with a focus on white supremacist violence.