On a warm September morning in 1963, four little black girls arrived at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Dressed in their nicest white dresses, they came — as they did every Sunday — to study scripture and learn about joy, faith, and love. But that morning, those four babies were murdered by a bomb in the basement planted by the Klu Klux Klan.
Almost fifty-six years later, we are mourning the tragedies in Gilroy, California and El Paso, Texas — where white supremacy and domestic terrorism has once again claimed innocent lives and traumatized communities.
As Black women, we have an intimate understanding of the fact that violence motivated by hatred and bigotry has always been present in our history. From the burning of Black Wall Street in 1921 to the Birmingham church bombing in 1963 to the Charleston church shooting in 2015 to today, Americans have been killed because of the color of their skin for far too long.
We must have the courage to call it what it is: domestic terrorism and a threat to our national security. But we also know that part of our strength as a nation is that, in our darkest moments, we fight for the best of who we are. I believe we are facing one of those moments right now — and I’m prepared to fight as your president to protect Americans against the threat of domestic terrorism.
That’s why I’m proposing that we keep weapons of war out of the hands of these domestic terrorists and direct federal law enforcement to crack down on violent hate.
First, because I’m done waiting around for Congress to get its act together while Americans are being slaughtered, I will take executive action to require online gun sales platforms like ArmsList.com to perform background checks. Loaded guns should not be a few clicks away for any domestic terrorist with a laptop.
Second, I will commit $2 billion of federal funding to investigating, disrupting, and prosecuting domestic terrorists through the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. By prioritizing domestic terrorism within these bodies, we’ll be able to more vigilantly monitor violent right-wing websites and forums, fund programs to counter hate-based violence, and, if necessary, hold accountable those who commit these terrible crimes.
Third, I will prioritize legislation that will empower law enforcement to temporarily seize the guns of a terrorist who may imminently commit a hate crime. This will allow law enforcement to petition a federal court for a Domestic Terrorism Prevention Order, which would grant them the authority to target individuals who post online threats of violence, anti-immigrant manifestos, and other warnings signs.
And fourth, I will revise the mission statement of the National Counterterrorism Center to include domestic terrorism in the mission — allowing this agency to work alongside other law enforcement agencies on these cases. Terrorism is terrorism – let’s treat it that way. The NCTC has unique expertise on the process of radicalization, so they bring critical knowledge that can help us in this fight.
We can make real progress on this issue by electing a president who understands the history and gravity of the domestic terror threat and is committed to taking action.
Right now, however, we have a president doing more to fan the flames of racial animus than confront it. While Trump didn’t pull the trigger in El Paso or Gilroy, he’s sure been tweeting out the ammunition. And when he cozies up to white supremacists and winks at suggestions of violence against Black and brown communities, he poses a very real risk to our national security.
That ends when I’m president.
I will always speak the truth about the magnitude of the threat. I will devote the resources necessary to disarm hate. And together, we will create the America we believe in, where families can go to churches and schools and movies and malls without having to fear for their lives.
Fighting back against the evils of white supremacy and violence is how we honor Denise, Addie, Carole, and Cynthia from Birmingham — and all those who have lost their lives to domestic terrorism. And while it may not be easy, I know this is a fight that we will win.