Henderson to Congress: Law Enforcement Must Confront White Nationalist Violence


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Release Date

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


WASHINGTON Wade J. Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will testify before the House Committee on the Judiciary today on the threat of white supremacist domestic terrorism in America. In his testimony, Henderson emphasizes the need for federal law enforcement to prioritize preventing, investigating, and prosecuting white supremacist violence.

The federal government has long had intelligence that demonstrated the threat of violent white nationalists,” Henderson says in his testimony. “Indeed, the failure to act on this intelligence, and to instead misdirect federal law enforcement resources to unjustly target Black and Brown communities, has meant that innocent Black and Brown lives were lost while white nationalists were emboldened to commit more acts of hate and violence.”

Henderson also calls on Congress to avoid reinforcing counterterrorism laws and policies that would violate the civil rights of the very communities who are often targeted for hate by white supremacists, and to instead utilize the dozens of existing federal statutes and resources to thoroughly investigate and prevent future white nationalist violence. Henderson also contextualized the violent January 6 white nationalist attack on the U.S. Capitol as evidence of the systemic racism endemic to American society. 

We must reckon with systemic racism in areas like education, employment, the courts, housing and lending, health care, immigration, voting rights, and our criminal-legal system. Our recommendations for legislative action to advance civil rights in each of these areas are therefore important steps in addressing white nationalist violence,” says Henderson. “[W]e adamantly oppose any legislation that would create an added charge for domestic terrorism or any enhanced or additional criminal penalties. Congress must help ensure that the federal government uses the many tools at its disposal, including over 50 terrorism-related crimes and over a dozen other criminal statutes and authorities, to prioritize and address white nationalist violence now. We continue to support the recently re-introduced Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA), as well as efforts to address white supremacy in policing and to improve the federal government’s response to hate crimes and to mandate hate crimes data collection.” Henderson also called for the passage of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, as well as legislation supporting the creation of a U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. 

His full testimony can be found here.

A live stream of the hearing is available here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Latest Stories