Less than two months before White supremacists in Saturday’s Unite the Right rally terrorized Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving three people dead, the Trump administration dropped funding for a nonprofit organization that works to reform White extremists.
Life After Hate, founded in 2011 by former members of far-right American hate groups, works with people who “wish to leave a life of hate and violence,” according to its website.
The group engages in academic research, outreach, education, and consults various organizations — including community groups and governments — to “grapple with the causes of intolerance and racism.”
Despite a twenty-fold increase in requests for help from the group since Election Day from individuals looking to reform themselves or from family and acquaintances looking for help for someone they know, the Department of Homeland Security did not include Life After Hate in their grant list.
They were initially prepared to receive a $400,000 grant just a week before Trump’s inauguration. In June, the group was dropped from the list of grantees.
Defunding Life After Hate is a part of a larger trend from the Trump White House and Republican-controlled Congress to turn a blind eye to White, American-born terrorism despite being the largest domestic terrorist threat, as Think Progress reports.
Since September 11, 2001 — as Life After Hate co-founder Christian Picciolini stated in an NPR interview — “more Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by White supremacists than by any other foreign or domestic group combined by a factor of two.”
Instead of addressing this increasing threat, many of the award recipients of Congress’ $10 million grant in the Countering Violent Extremism program are city police departments and groups that focus on Islamic extremism.
Reuters also reported that Trump aimed to rename the program so that, moving forward, it exclusively covers Islamic radicals.
Such a shift is not mere politics; it threatens the lives of everyday Americans, like the two troopers who died in a helicopter crash covering the increasingly belligerent Unite the Right participants and Heather Heyer, who died when James Fields rammed into a sea of nonviolent Black Lives Matter and LGBT counter protesters at Saturday’s rally.