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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi

Representing the 8th District of Illinois

Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi and Danny Davis Question Department Of Homeland Security’s Decision To Block Funding For Organization Combatting White Supremacism

August 17, 2017
Press Release

SCHAUMBURG, IL — Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi and Danny Davis today sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security questioning its June 2017 decision to rescind funding for an initiative to counter right-wing extremism, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other white supremacist groups responsible for the events in Charleston. The Obama administration initially awarded the $400,000 grant to the Chicago nonprofit Life After Hate through its Countering Violent Extremism program, but the Department of Homeland Security put a hold on the grant before ultimately rescinding it, even after a report the Department compiled with the FBI found that the white supremacist movement had carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist groups since September 11th. The same report found that white supremacists were the largest threat of domestic terror to the United States, and would continue to pose a “lethal threat” over the next year.

In their letter, Representatives Krishnamoorthi and Davis question whether Department of Homeland Security officials were aware of this report, if they chose to disregard the report’s findings, and if any senior White House advisors played a role in rescinding the funding to Life After Hate, the only organization which was to receive funding to counter white nationalism through the Countering Violent Extremism program.

“The events of Charlottesville have been a blow to our entire country and have forced many to question how this could be happening in America in 2017,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “Most Americans knew there were right-wing extremists out there, but I doubt nearly as many people realized the scale of the threat posed by Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and their supporters. But the Department of Homeland Security was aware of this problem and it even published a report with the FBI in May on the scale of the violence committed by white supremacists. The Department’s decision to rescind funding dedicated to combatting right-wing extremism, just a month after its own report sounded the alarm on this threat, presents serious questions about the Trump administration’s approach to combatting white supremacy.”

The text of the letter Congressmen Krishnamoorthi and Davis sent the Department of Homeland Security follows and is available here.

 

August 17, 2017

 

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke

Department of Homeland Security

300 7th Street SW

Washington D.C., 20024

 

Dear Acting Secretary Duke,

 

In the aftermath of the horrific act of domestic terror in Charlottesville and the ongoing rise in right-wing extremism, we write regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind a $400,000 Countering Violent Extremism grant to Life After Hate.

Life After Hate is a Chicago-based nonprofit created by former far-right extremists with the goal of helping radicalized members of the extreme right transition out of those movements and back into society. Since 2011, they have provided a much-needed service in fighting against radical white supremacist and right-wing extremist groups. When they were awarded a $400,000 grant under the Countering Violent Extremism program in January 2017 they were the sole recipient that targeted right-wing extremism.

In May 2017, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned that the white supremacist movement had carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist groups over the past 16 years, and that they will likely continue to pose a lethal threat over the next year. Between 2000 and 2016, white supremacists were found responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks. Since November 2016, white supremacist and right-wing extremists have been particularly emboldened. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of white supremacist groups has rebounded to 917, the largest number since 2010.  

The timing of this report makes the Department’s June 2017 decision to rescind Life After Hate’s grant extremely troubling. At this moment, the Countering Violent Extremism program is not funding any organization that combats white nationalist extremism. 

We respectfully request that DHS provide Congress with the following information:

  1. Was anyone at the Department aware of this FBI report when they chose to defund Life After Hate? If so, why did they disregard these warnings?
  2. Did any senior White House advisors play a role in rescinding Life After Hate’s funding?

In light of Saturday’s events in Charlottesville - where white supremacists and Nazis terrorized a community with a rally and a counter-protester was killed by an apparent neo-Nazi – the need to prevent far-right extremism could never be more clear. The President’s repeated equivocation in condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalists raise questions as to this administration’s commitment to defeating right-wing hate. 

We respectfully request that you clarify the reasons and process by which the Department chose to withdraw the grant, and would appreciate assurances that the Department of Homeland Security is actively combating right-wing hate.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We await your timely response.

 

Sincerely

Raja Krishnamoorthi                                                                          Danny Davis

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress