Congress Needs to Investigate Threat of Domestic Terrorism Posed by White Supremacist Hate Groups

Posted July 15, 2015

MP3 Interview with Mark Potok, senior fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center, conducted by Scott Harris

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The June 17 cold-blooded murder of eight black parishioners and their pastor at Charleston, South Carolina's historic Emanuel AME Church by an avowed white supremacist provoked anger, mourning and protest. The alleged assailant, Dylann Roof, wrote about his racist views that motivated his violence on a website, featuring photos of the 21-year-old posing with Confederate flags, a symbol of the bloody civil war insurrection waged to preserve black slavery across the South. South Carolina's civil rights community responded to the murders by renewing their decades-long demand to remove the Confederate flag flying in front of the Confederate Soldiers Monument on the grounds of the state Capitol in Columbia.

It wasn't long before local and national politicians, businesses and celebrities joined the campaign to take down the state's Confederate flag. That gathering pressure rapidly gained momentum and the state's legislature quickly passed, and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the flag on July 9, moving it to a museum.

The success of the campaign to remove the Confederate flag in South Carolina – and vocal support to take it down in other states – was an important victory for civil rights activists. But the current threat of violence presented by white supremacist ideology that inspired Dylann Roof is an issue that was largely ignored in the national debate about the Confederate flag. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Mark Potok, senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, who explains why his group is calling for congressional hearings on the threat of domestic terrorism posed by white supremacist hate groups.

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