Illinois Senate passes measure for neo-Nazis to be classed as terrorist groups

'It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend,' says senator

Maya Oppenheim
Tuesday 15 August 2017 10:15
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The senate of the Midwestern state plans to send copies of the resolution to President Donald Trump, members of Congress and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner
The senate of the Midwestern state plans to send copies of the resolution to President Donald Trump, members of Congress and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner

A US state has passed a resolution calling for police to class neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organisations in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville.

The Illinois Senate approved an anti-hate group resolution in direct response to the violence which erupted at a white supremacist rally in Virginia over the weekend leaving one person dead and scores more injured.

The measure, which was passed on Sunday, stated neo-Nazism and white nationalism continue to pose dangerous threats to cohesion and society overall. The resolution argued far-right extremism was accelerating in the attempt to divide America and promote hate.

State Senator Don Harmon, who sponsored the measure, said: “It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend”.

The Democrat added: “They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today”.

The senate of the Midwestern state plans to send copies of the resolution to President Donald Trump, members of Congress and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Governor Rauner was subject to a torrent of criticism from Democrats for failing to label the death of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old women who was killed after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Virginia, as domestic terrorism.

But after saying “What doesn't matter is definitions”, he was eventually forced to perform something of a U-turn and rework his position claiming: ”The deadly violence in Charlottesville this weekend is abhorrent and absolutely an act of domestic terrorism.“

White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' with body armor and combat weapons evacuate comrades who were pepper sprayed after the 'Unite the Right' rally was declared a unlawful gathering by Virginia State Police

The largest gathering of white nationalists the US has seen in decades descended on Virginia over the weekend. The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads, and members of the Ku Klux Klan clutching flaming torches and assault rifles and wearing paramilitary clothing.

Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters converged on the city in response and ugly clashes with fist fights quickly broke out in the street with pepper spray released onto the fighting crowds. Authorities declared the “Unite the Right” rally an unlawful assembly and later announced a state of emergency.

White nationalist, James Alex Fields Jr is being held in a Virgina jail in connection with the deadly crash near the white nationalist rally. The 20-year-old, who is from Ohio, was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder and other criminal counts.

In the wake of the rally, Richard Spencer, a leading white supremacist who helped organise the gathering in the generally peaceful quiet university town, has promised to carry on protesting.

Richard Spencer, who is president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute, said he had “the will to win” in the battle not to pull down the statue of a Confederate General, Robert E Lee from a local park – the initial reason for the rally.

“We’re going to be back here and we’re going to humiliate all of these people who opposed us,” he told the Daily Mail. “We’ll be back here 100 times if necessary. I always win. Because I have the will to win, I keep going until I win.”

Mr Spencer, who is crediting with inventing the term “alt-right”, blamed the Mayor of Charlottesville, Mike Signer, for the violence. Writing on Twitter, he said the attempt to stop the protest constituted an attack on free speech, and claimed that “Charlottesville was a total set-up”.

Mr Spencer’s pledge is at direct loggerheads with the instruction from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe who demanded white nationalists to “go home”.

Mr Spencer rose to fame for being punched at an anti-Trump protest earlier in the year. The spokesperson for the so-called “alt-right” – a far-right movement which has been accused of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and misogyny – became an overnight meme after the clip went viral. At the time, he said he was worried the video would become “the meme to end all memes”.

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