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Durbin Delivers Opening Statement at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Domestic Terrorism Following Buffalo Massacre

Witnesses include son of victim of recent Buffalo, NY massacre

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Examining the ‘Metastasizing’ Domestic Terrorism Threat After the Buffalo Attack.”  This hearing—the Committee’s third on domestic terrorism this Congress—will explore the continued threat posed by violent white supremacists and other extremists, including those who have embraced the so-called “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, as well as the federal government’s response to this threat.

Key Quotes:

“This hearing comes just three weeks after one of the worst domestic terrorism attacks in recent memory, the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. A white supremacist entered into Tops Grocery store and massacred 10 Black Americans in cold blood, and wounded three others.”

“Every one of these victims left behind loved ones who are grieving their loss. And several of those loved ones are in this room today… There are no words that will fill the empty chairs at your dinner table or the empty spaces in your hearts. But your willingness to sit in this room—to honor the memory of those you lost—is a lesson in courage and love. Please know that you are not alone. America joins you in grief. We offer our deepest condolences. And most importantly our commitment to do something.”

“Nearly nine in ten Americans agree—we need sensible gun law reforms in this country, and we need them now. We often hear the question asked, why do mass shooters engage in such horrific acts? One of their motivations is the focus for this morning’s hearing: domestic terrorism—a threat that is, in the words of FBI Director Christopher Wray, ‘metastasizing across the country.’”

“White supremacist violence has swept across America. And this trend raises the obvious question: Why is this threat getting worse? We cannot deny that hate has a big platform. As we all saw in the video, there are media figures—like Tucker Carlson—who are dragging racist conspiracy theories into mainstream America.”

“As lawmakers, we must speak with one voice in repudiating this incendiary rhetoric, along with any individual or extremist group that resorts to violence. And while there are no simple solutions for addressing violent extremism, a promising starting point is the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which I first introduced in 2017. I am sorry to say the Senate was unable to move forward on my bill two weeks ago but my hope is that this hearing will mark a shift in our willingness to work together in combatting domestic terrorism.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

This hearing builds on years of efforts by Durbin to address the growing threat of domestic violent extremist groups and individuals (DVEs), including racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists and violent white supremacists, and the federal government’s efforts to combat this threat.  Durbin first held a hearing on the domestic terrorism threat in 2012, after a white supremacist murdered seven Sikh worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  In March 2021, Durbin held his first oversight hearing as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee on domestic terrorism and FBI oversight, and a second hearing on domestic terrorism in January 2022, one year after the January 6, 2021, insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Durbin has additionally taken to the Senate floor numerous times to call out the white supremacist rhetoric used by Fox News host Tucker Carlson and the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that has fueled hateful acts of racist violence.  According to the New York Times, more than 400 episodes of Tucker Carlson’s news program—which has attracted more viewers than any other show in the history of cable news—have alluded to this hateful conspiracy theory.  Further, Durbin is the lead author of the bipartisan and bicameral Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA)—a bill Durbin first introduced in 2017, and which Senate Republicans filibustered just last month.