The State Department finally recognized an ultra-nationalistic white supremacy group in Russia as a terrorist organization. The Russian Imperialism Movement has two bases in St. Petersburg and provides training to Neo-Nazis that include hand-to-hand combat and tactical weapons instruction.
This push to label this organization and leaders in it as terrorists is huge. The organization itself has been accused by the U.S. in the past as training and helping Swedish men who carried out a 2016 terrorist attack in Gothenburg in a cafe, in a migrant center, and in a campsite housing refugees. The organization has also been found to have ties with Neo-Nazi groups in Scandinavia that seem to propel Putin’s attempt at discourse.
While the organization is not directly supported by Putin, Putin has encouraged pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine that have used violent means and has tolerated the group.
By directly labeling this group as a global terrorist group, the U.S. is finally recognizing that white supremacy groups can also be terrorists. Until now, only Islamic based terrorist groups have earned that title.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified a multitude of white supremacy groups currently active in America that have not faced any action because of the protection of the First Amendment. Alarmingly, the SPLC has data that shows that white nationalist hate organizations have risen by 55 percent since President Trump has been in office.
Yet, due to the rise of violence of white supremacy groups against people such as the El Paso, Texas shooting earlier this year and the ChristChurch shooting in New Zealand, the discussion of white supremacy violence and its toll has become more mainstream.
During the early stages of the Democratic race for 2020, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren was asked about another shooting that occurred at the hands of a white supremacist.
We need a Justice Department and a president that treats white supremacy as the domestic terrorism threat it is. And we need a president who will fight to end the gun violence epidemic. #CNNTownHall pic.twitter.com/tWNnx5jQHB
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 27, 2020
Warren received a lot of positivity for her response to the question, mainly because Americans have vented on social media the aggravation on not having white supremacy being treated as a terrorist threat to the American people.
In early January, news broke of another white supremacist group in America called The Base. Federal agents quickly arrested and charged members who were plotting to derail trains, poison water supplies, and kill people. The group was identified as a domestic terrorist group that followed some Al Qaeda tactics, and was charged as such.
However, with news of this Russian organization being labelled as a terrorist group, and with the multitude of white supremacy violent attacks and plots such as The Base, Americans are hoping for more progression. For the U.S. to identify white supremacy groups on American soil who pose danger to citizens, as domestic terrorists.
Featured Picture Source: Todd Trapani