Illinois Senate Labels Neo-Nazis A Terrorist Organization

Illinois Senate Labels Neo-Nazis A Terrorist Organization Promo Image

The Illinois Senate has called for law enforcement to view and treat white supremacist groups as terrorist threats. The state resolution was in response to a violent gathering of white nationalists in Virginia.

On Aug. 13, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution requesting that state law enforcement approach white nationalists and neo-Nazis as terrorist organizations, giving the groups the same designation as the Islamic State group (ISIS) or Al Qaeda.

The language of the resolution urged Illinois law enforcement to "recognize these white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations, and to pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism."

On Aug. 11, hundreds of white supremacist group members gathered to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Aug. 12, the white nationalists and neo-Nazis held a rally in the town, KABC reports.

The white supremacist rally swiftly turned violent, prompting Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia to declare a state of emergency.

The demonstration turned fatal when 20-year-old James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

"[Heyer] would never back down from what she believed in," Marissa Blair, a friend of Heyer, told CNN. "And that's what she died doing, she died fighting for what she believed in. Heather was a sweet, sweet soul and she'll never be replaced, she'll never be forgotten."

On Aug. 13, hundreds of Chicago residents marched in mourning of Heyer and those that had been injured by Fields, according to the Chicagoist.

Democratic state Sen. Don Harmon of Illinois asserted that the violence in Charlottesville was ample evidence that white nationalists constituted a terrorist organization.

"It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend," Harmon tol the Chicago Tribune. "They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today."

On May 23, the Trump administration proposed cutting off funding for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program "Countering Violent Extremism." The program is designed to help communities counter dangerous ideologies like white nationalism, Reuters reports.

The Trump administration froze $10 million in grants that were slated to help communities address violent extremism.

Sources: KABCChicago Tribune, ChicagoistCNN, Reuters / Featured Image: Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Cville dog/Wikimedia Commons, Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons

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