State Sens. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, and Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, announced plans Monday to introduce legislation that would require both the state Attorney General and the California Office of Emergency Services to create units focusing on domestic terrorism.
“Let’s be very clear,” Stern said. “What happened last week (at the U.S. Capitol) wasn’t Antifa. It was effectively sponsored by a president and his loyalists in local, state and federal office who have been encouraging and supporting the white nationalist movement, helping it get bigger and stronger to try and normalize the types of atrocious activities we witnessed in Washington. We have to respond not just with blustery condemnation, but with a concrete answer to this threat to domestic security.”
The lawmakers said the legislation, which is still being drafted and will be introduced in the coming weeks, will call for:
— establishing investigation teams at the Department of Justice to investigate and coordinate efforts to thwart acts of domestic terror, hate crimes and other criminal activity by white nationalist, neo-Nazi, neo-confederate, anti-government militia and other similar groups, such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and the Ku Klux Klan; and
— establishing within the Cal OES State Threat Assessment Center a new operation to take steps necessary to assess potential threats from such groups.
“The most effective way to combat domestic terrorism is with actionable intelligence gathered from all reliable investigative agencies,” said Umberg, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a retired army colonel who, as a federal prosecutor, secured numerous convictions of white supremacists who terrorized Blacks in Southern California.
The lawmakers noted that beyond the events that took place in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday, which have been well documented, an October report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies found that “white supremacists and other like-minded extremists conducted two-thirds of the terrorist plots and attacks in the United States” in the first eight months of 2020.
The report also noted: “…the domestic landscape could shift from a decentralized milieu of extremists to more organized and hierarchically structured groups… (which) could increase the competence and professionalism of these organizations in numerous areas, such as planning attacks, recruiting, training, improving operational security, and fundraising.”
Once the bill is introduced, it will be referred to a Senate policy committee and will likely be set for hearing sometime in March.