The Department of Homeland Security has officially classified white supremacy as a terrorist threat.
Adding white supremacy to the list of domestic terrorism threats comes following years of hate crimes, hate speech and overall harmful actions, including fatal shootings.
According to Rolling Stone, adding white supremacy to the list of domestic terrorism threats is the first time since the Department of Homeland Security was created following the 9/11 attacks, that the department has emphasized white nationalist domestic terrorism as a threat equal to other foreign groups.
Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, said that the influx of mass shootings around the country played a large part in the decision:
He said: “Mass shootings galvanized the Department of Homeland Security to expand its counterterrorism mission focus beyond terrorists operating aboard, to include those radicalized to violence within our borders by violent extremists of any ideology. The continuing menace of racially based violent extremism, particularly white supremacist extremism, is an abhorrent affront to our nation, the struggle and unity of its diverse population, and the core values of both our society and our department.”
Following the decision, the Department of Homeland Security released a 40-page report detailing how it will work with local and state governments to improve how it collects all data surrounding white nationalist threats, while also attempting to raise awareness and reduce the spread of misinformation across social networks, which have contributed to the fueling of extremist ideology.
Far-right conservatives are not happy with the decision and want the department to look into left-wing extremists’ groups too and apply the same standards.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), noted that civil rights group have been calling for this moment for quite a while:
Beirich said: “Civil rights groups have been screaming from the rafters about the federal government not taking white supremacy seriously. We’ve had Pittsburgh, Poway, Christchurch, El Paso. You can’t stick your head in the sand about this anymore.”