Top Democrats to start probe of hate crimes, surveillance of minorities

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Now that Democrats are set to retake control of the House of Representatives, one of the first things on their agenda will be to address issues with hate crimes and surveillance of minority communities that were ignored when Republicans controlled the House.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, in a letter to the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Dept. of Homeland Security, complained that the agencies had all failed to address prior inquiries by Democrats.

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“To date, we have received little or no substantive response to any of these communications,” Nadler wrote according to Reuters. “In the next Congress, this Committee will likely examine the causes of racial and religious violence, assess the adequacy of federal hate crimes statutes and scrutinize targeted domestic surveillance of specific groups,”

New data released this month by the FBI found that hate crimes jumped 17 percent in 2017, and anti-Semitic attacks spiked 37 percent. The data came after last month’s Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that and killed 11 worshippers as the shooter shouted: “All Jews must die.”

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In 2017, the FBI and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions seemed more focused on supposed “Black Identity Extremists,” including producing a report on those groups being a growing terror threat to the country.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco pointed to a list of hate crime cases the department has brought since last year, including white supremacist James Fields, who is on trial for the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Tyler Houlton, press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said his agency is “committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry.”