Congress Urged to Open Hearings on Rise of Racist Hate Groups Coinciding with Trump Presidency

Interview with Scot X. Esdaile, member of NAACP National Board of Directors and president of the NAACP CT State Conference of Branches, conducted by Scott Harris

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson, a self-identified white nationalist, was arrested last week on weapons and drug charges related to an alleged assassination plot. The 49-year-old resident of Silver Spring, Maryland is accused of stockpiling weapons and ammunition in order to assassinate a list of journalists and Democratic party political leaders. The man’s ultimate goal, in his own words, was to establish a “white homeland.”
Among those targeted for assassination were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Richard Blumenthal, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters and former House member Beto O’Rourke. Also included on the terrorist suspect’s hit list were MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough, as well as Don Lemon and Van Jones from CNN.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Scot X. Esdaile, member of NAACP National Board of Directors & president of the NAACP Connecticut State Conference of Branches. Here, Esdaile examines the arrest of the Coast Guard lieutenant on domestic terrorism charges, and why he urges Congress to open hearings on the rise of white supremacist hate groups coinciding with the Trump campaign and presidency.

SCOT X. ESDAILE: We’ve been seeing this backlash ever since President Obama’s first run for presidency. Ever since he won that election, there’s been a strong backlash to African Americans across the nation. It started pretty much with the Tea Party and then that particular climate has escalated into Donald Trump winning in the White House after President Obama.

Since he’s been in office, he’s really been throwing gas on the fire, striving to increase tension nationwide. Interesting with this particular arrest for this Coast Guard who was actually a lieutenant. He was a high-ranking officer, obviously insane in reference to striving to create a race war here in the United States, creating a beachhead for all whites in America. If the government does not take this seriously, this will continue to increase. People will you know, get very, very upset and start getting into their own corners and the tension will rise. And then, you know, we’re going to start seeing physical fights in the streets.

And I think it’s imperative that the leaders of government and our government officials take this seriously. But now what we’re seeing is that the government is monitoring black activists that are out here protesting. The National NAACP at our headquarters is calling for hearings before the Homeland Security and also before the national Judiciary Committee to try to calm this stuff down, going on around the country and get the government to work for the people and strive stop this violence instead of pouring gasoline on it and enhancing this climate.

BETWEEN THE LINES: As you just said, the NAACP is calling for the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security to conduct hearings on domestic terrorism and the threats of white supremacist, violent organizations. What can the Congress do? What can the federal government do to push back against these violent organizations that preach hate?

SCOT X. ESDAILE: Well, it’s their job to protect and serve. It’s their job to arrest people and put people like this lieutenant away. If you keep being passive and let racism run rampant around America, bad things are gonna happen. Just like bad things have happened in the past. We found in the KKK years ago, it was high-ranking public officials that were a part of these organizations and that’s why they had to wear hoods over their head because at night they were terrorists and during the day they were public officials.

Now we’re seeing lieutenants that are supposed to be guardians, protecting our nation and they’re actually trying to create the war in our nation. So it’s very hypocritical. We’re asking the government to take this thing serious and lock these people up and put them away because they know who these people are. They should know who they are. And, they need to take it more serious instead of monitoring the people that are using their constitutional rights to protest and strive to call America on the bad things that are going on in reference to police officers killing unarmed people in America. They should be arresting these hate groups like the White Wolves and the neo-Nazis and the skinheads and the KKK that are rearing their ugly heads back as if they were still back in the mid-1800s and the early 1900s.

BETWEEN THE LINES: And the other part of the call that the NAACP has made, again as you mentioned, the NAACP is calling for more transparency about government agencies that are using methods to track and monitor black activists – like many tens of thousands of people who’ve rallied against police brutality and police violence under many banners, including the Black Lives Matter banner. Tell us a bit about what it is that Congress can do to expose some of these extra constitutional surveillance programs that are targeting activists.

SCOT X. ESDAILE: Well, they need to stop, that’s what they need to do. The government needs to stop monitoring people that are exercising their constitutional rights and they need to be putting away the bad guys, not good guys. And that’s the number one thing that the government needs to do and they need to do it immediately, swiftly and decisively and stop playing games. We’ve learned about the counter-intelligence program of the ’60s and the ’70s, and it seems like the government is still carrying out the same type of practices and tactic. It’s imperative that the government, meaning the Judiciary Committee, do a full-fledged investigation on this crisis and also Homeland Security in reference to protecting us at home and making sure that we’re safe at home and not being targeted. And zero in on in reference to what this guy was doing. Once again, a high-ranking official who was a lieutenant and striving to start a race war at the same time.

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