Main Civil Rights Organizations Oppose Creation of New Home Terrorism Laws

Contact: Janessa Sambola-Harris, Conference on Civil and Human Rights, [email protected]
Nadia Aziz, Arab American Institute, [email protected]
Logan Smith, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, [email protected]
Eric Naing, Muslim lawyers, [email protected]
Juan Martinez, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, [email protected]

WASHINGTON– After the deadly attack on Congress by right-wing extremists on January 6, including white nationalists, 135 civil and human rights organizations led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Arab American Institute, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Muslim Advocates, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund urged Congress to ensure that the Department of Justice uses the 50+ federal laws already in place to investigate and prosecute those who participated in the riot. The groups identified other measures Congress can take to address the long-standing and ongoing threat posed by white supremacists and urged them not to pass additional domestic terrorism laws.

The organizations firmly opposed the creation of a new domestic terrorism indictment, pointing to the harsh reality that counter-terrorism practices are far too often misused to target and criminalize the very marginalized communities that white supremacists target for hatred. “We fear that a new federal law or list of national terrorism would adversely affect civil rights, and – like the long and troubled history of our nation, black activists, Muslims, Arabs and social and racial justice movements are targeted take – this new authority could show this, be used to expand racial profiling, or to monitor and investigate color communities and political opponents in the name of national security, ”they noted.

“The government’s inadequate response to rising white nationalism is a shameful political failure. The problem is hardly new, and prosecutors have long had a variety of criminal laws to counter the violence of white supremacists, ”she said Wade J. Henderson, Interim President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The time is overdue to realign resources, implement law enforcement guidelines, and prioritize the fight against white nationalism as the grave threat it poses. Congress can support these efforts by not passing additional counterterrorism laws but by enforcing existing laws and using its powerful oversight and appropriation agency to demand a more effective response from federal law enforcement agencies. “

“We do not lack the means to hold white supremacists and anti-government actors to account – we lack the political will to do so. At the same time, Arab Americans and American Muslims are being treated as suspicious in the endless “war on terror”, “he said Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute. “In an inherently biased criminal justice system, we know how to use additional legal agencies – they will continue to be used – to target communities directly affected, including black and brown people and religious minorities.”

“For years the authorities have ignored or downplayed the threat that violent white nationalists pose not only to the individuals and communities they target but also to democracy itself. While there are many reasons our judicial system has not prosecuted these groups, lack of resources or law is not one of them – and must not be part of a rushed resolution, “he said Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “We need a thorough accounting of the resources allocated to targeting and containing these groups, as well as a full accounting of the extent to which these groups have infiltrated law enforcement themselves.”

“American Muslims know all too well what happens when policymakers who want to look like they are doing something expand terrorist authorities in response to extremist violence,” he said Madihha Ahussain |, Special advisor on anti-Muslim bigotry to Muslim lawyers. “If law enforcement is given even more powers to monitor and criminalize people, Muslims and color communities will ultimately be hurt. As the acting US attorney responsible for investigating the Capitol riot made clear, law enforcement already has all the tools and more to investigate and prosecute threats and criminal activity. The problem is that the government is not making preventing violence by white nationalists a priority, and not that they lack enough power and resources. “

“The January 6th attempted coup led by white supremacist groups trying to overthrow the will of the American people to choose their leader is a clear example of how widespread white supremacy is in our society and in is in the ranks of law enforcement itself, “he said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “The violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups has increased because federal law enforcement officers have decided not to enforce investigative and prosecution laws that are already in place. What we don’t need is for Congress to unnecessarily expand federal domestic statues of terror that inevitably threaten the civil rights of black communities and other color communities. “

The full letter and the signatories can be found here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition made up of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all people in the United States. The Leadership Conference works towards an America that is as good as its ideals. More information about the Leadership Conference and its member organizations can be found at

The Arab American Institute is a national civil rights organization whose mission is to encourage and promote the direct participation of Arab Americans in civil life. Representing the estimated 3.7 million Arab Americans in all 50 states, the Arab American Institute provides policy makers with research and analysis on a range of topics, including strengthening democracy, protecting civil rights and civil liberties for all, and promoting the international Peace and human rights. You can follow AAI’s work on Twitter at @AAIUSA or at

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action unites a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews across the country fighting for justice and equality for all. We are the only national Jewish organization exclusively focused on social change in the United States.

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization that works in court, in the halls of power and in the communities to stop bigotry. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans can live free from hatred and discrimination.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) was founded in 1940 and is the country’s first civil and human rights organization. The LDF has been completely independent of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957 – although the LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equality. The LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary and collaborative center within the LDF that launches targeted campaigns and carries out innovative research on the design of civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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