Congresswoman Ross Questions AG Merrick Garland About White Nationalists and Rise in Hate Crimes in North Carolina and Nationwide

AG Garland shares concern about increase in hate crimes, commits to investigating dangerous white nationalist “active clubs”

September 21, 2023

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) questioned U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about the rise in white nationalism and hate crimes in North Carolina and across the country. In 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of white nationalist groups grew by 55% between 2017 and 2019, noting that the rise in hate-based attacks coincides with the growth in the white nationalist movement. This dangerous trend has been propelled by the emergence of “active clubs,” which are a network of white nationalist groups that emphasize violence against perceived enemies.

Congresswoman Ross asked: “Wake County has worked to welcome people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. The growth and success of my district in the Research Triangle depends on our commitment to celebrating the many cultures that contribute to our community. Unfortunately, over the past few years, these very communities that have contributed so much to my state, and my district have found themselves under attack…As Attorney General, I am deeply interested and concerned about the rise of these [active] clubs, threats of violence, and actual violence, and wanted to know if you're familiar with these activities, and what your department is doing to counteract them.”

 AG Merrick Garland responded: “I'm not familiar with the specifics of those clubs. And I will certainly look into what the Department has been doing in that respect. Very soon after I came into the Department, I saw the spike in hate crime threats that were being made and in actual acts of violence. I directed the Department to develop a strategy for responding to that. 30 days later, that was pretty much coincident with Congress's passage of the COVID No Hate Act…We have brought dozens of cases against people who have made these threats as well as particularly those who have attempted to carry them out. And as you know, we have a prosecution pending in Buffalo with respect to the horrendous killing of Black Americans in the Tops grocery store by an avowed white supremacist.”

Last Congress, Congresswoman Ross fought to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bipartisan legislation to bolster the nation’s defenses against hate crimes committed against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and help combat the growing crisis of anti-AAPI discrimination, violence, and bigotry stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.