Warns Against Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Laws
August 7, 2019, New York – Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the Center for Constitutional Rights released the following statement:
“The Center for Constitutional Rights stands in solidarity with the victims and the families of the deceased of this weekend’s mass shootings. Although we do not yet know the full details of the shooters’ motives, it appears that the shooting in El Paso, Texas was an act of white supremacist violence committed against the Latinx border community. It was the natural consequence of an ideology of hate that has permeated this country for centuries and continues to today. Those in power at the highest levels of government, including Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, Ken Cuccinelli, and others who have spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric while implementing policies to target vulnerable immigrant communities bear major responsibility, as do politicians beholden to the NRA and its toxic and perverse ideology.
At the same time that we call for justice for the victims of this and other senseless slaughter committed by white supremacists, we should not accept calls for expanded law enforcement powers to combat it, including new domestic terrorism legislation. The notion that this country – with its vast, existing arsenal of criminal laws, surveillance tools, and law enforcement power – lacks the means to hold those responsible now and in the future accountable is bogus. We are in this tragic and terrifying place because of the total failure of our government to care about the threat of white supremacist violence and the threat of guns, stretching back long before, but exacerbated by, a white supremacist now in the Oval Office fueling the fire. Moreover, as the Center for Constitutional Rights knows from defending activists and those broadly targeted as “terrorists,” adding a new law-enforcement category of “domestic terrorism,” with all the expansiveness and malleability that term permits, carries the potential for serious abuse. To expect that the government – and especially a Trump administration who sees political opponents and critics as enemies of the state – would use its prosecutorial power carefully, targeting only those responsible for actual crimes, also flies in the face of reality and historical experience.
We need a response to this madness, and we need one that recognizes the deep historical and structural roots of this violence and yet that goes beyond, or deeper than, our knee-jerk expectation that we can police and imprison our way out of it.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.