Assemblyman: Investigate White Supremacists In Government

Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-West Seneca, is pictured speaking during a news conference hosted May 16 by the Assembly Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.

Are New York’s governments full of white supremacists and neo-Nazis?

Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-West Seneca, wants to create a new state department to find out. Burke has introduced A.10534 in the state Assembly to establish the Office of Domestic Terrorism. The new office would monitor, analyze, investigate and combat domestic terrorism, white supremacy and neo-Nazi infiltration of government agencies.

“This legislation will take the important first steps to rooting out extremism in every level of government by establishing a specific department to address the issue of domestic terrorism,” Burke wrote in his legislative justification.

There is no companion bill yet introduced in the state Senate, and nothing could happen until after the state legislative session begins in January.

Burke proposes the Office of Domestic Terrorism be responsible for investigating all levels of government for extremist views or affiliations that may be threatening or incite violence against another person or persons due to a belief regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.

A pair of comments Burke made in the wake of the Buffalo shooting foreshadowed the introduction of A.10534. On the Assembly floor on May 23, Burke spoke in support of K.969, a resolution expressing the state’s condolences to the Buffalo community, and said more should be done to make sure there are no white supremacists in any government institution.But it was a May 16 statement at a news conference hosted by the Assembly Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus when Burke spoke most forcefully about white supremacy in government.

“White supremacy, right-wing extremism are entering our institutions, our governmental institutions, all across this nation. And if you don’t think it’s happening in this state, it’s happening in this state too,” Burke said during a May 16 news conference hosted by the Assembly Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus in response to the Buffalo shooting. “Everything in our power should be rooting these right-wing extremists out of our government, out of our community. They are facilitating white supremacy. It needs to stop.”

On May 31, the Anti-Defamation League released a report on extremist threats in New York state. The league found there are many extremist groups in New York state identifying as anti-government extremists, militias, white supremacists and radical Islamists. The league noted white supremacist propaganda incidents had decreased 31% in 2021 from 2020, but the state still ranked seventh nationally in the number of white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2021. Hate crimes in New York City nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021 and antisemitic hate crimes had increased 62% from 2020 to 2021. New York also had the most residents (58) arrested and charged for alleged participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Washington, D.C., including a 2020 state Senate candidate and a member of the Queens County District Council.

The report also came with a list of recommendations to prevent and counter domestic extremism. While the league recommends opposing extremists in government service, it didn’t note high numbers of extremists in government service. The report calls on state officials to do more about domestic violent extremism, but didn’t call on new surveillance or investigative authorities. Instead, it called on existing state authorities to focus on domestic violent extremism.

“Elected officials and law enforcement must stand united against extremist individuals serving in government,” the league report states. It is essential that all parties recognize the potential for harm when such individuals gain positions of power, whether it is in government, law enforcement, or the military.”

To read the full Anti-Defamation League report, visit www.adl.org/resources/report/hate-empire-state-extremism-antisemitism-new-york-2020-2021.


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