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Walker Opening Statement at Hearing “Assessing the Threat from Accelerationists and Militia Extremists”

July 16, 2020

Walker Opening Statement at Hearing “Assessing the Threat from Accelerationists and Militia Extremists”

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) – Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing on “Assessing the Threat from Accelerationists and Militia Extremists.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

There is no doubt that across the globe, there is an uptick in extremist ideology, particularly linked to violent white supremacy and anarchy.  As the Committee created after 9/11, we must also stay focused on the continued jihadi threat.

Within these various movements, we are seeing the adoption of “accelerationist” rhetoric with calls to target government institutions and law enforcement, and for adherents to commit acts of violence as a means of creating further unrest.  We see this concept in white supremacist movements, anti-government groups, and some violent environmental organizations.  This convergence of violent ideologies results in the sharing of tactics and propaganda, and the spreading of misinformation and conspiracies, as well as the celebration of violence.

I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of David Patrick Underwood, a DHS Protective Security Officer, and Damon Gutzwiller, a Santa Cruz County Deputy.  They were both murdered in the line of duty in late May and early June. I also want to express support and hope for the speedy recovery of their colleagues who were injured in these attacks. The suspects believed to be responsible have been arrested and the FBI is conducting a full investigation, including into the possible support for the “boogaloo” movement, which is an accelerationist term.

We must also review movements like Antifa. Over the past three months, there has been a consistent effort by Antifa supporters to infiltrate protests to lay siege to government buildings and target law enforcement. In Portland, the police chief has stated that the violence has cost the city at least $6.2 million in overtime to provide security. Violence in Seattle, which is largely linked to Antifa, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the Federal courthouse, which is now boarded up. All the first-floor windows are broken and rioters have made several attempts to set it on fire.

In Seattle, in particular, there is a coordinated effort to deny Antifa involvement, including by the Mayor.  The reality is that Antifa is not an organization.  But it is a movement, an ideology, and a call for violent rioting.  The people involved in CHOP, and in the continued violence around the city, are certainly part of this movement.

We can agree that all of these groups – Boogaloo, Antifa and any other extremist movements that seek to terrorize – must be absolutely condemned. These violent extremists on all sides are attempting to hijack legitimate protests and interrupt debate on needed institutional reforms.  Some are targeting protestors, some are attacking police officers, many are vandalizing government buildings, and others are seeking to create so-called “autonomous” zones.  We need a robust and coordinated effort to condemn this violence and restore order.

I appreciate the concrete steps this Administration has taken, especially within the Department of Homeland Security, to set up a framework to address terrorism and targeted violence.  The release of the September 2019 strategy was a critical step in identifying programs and capabilities across DHS that can address these threats and gaps where new efforts are needed.  Additional staff is being hired to expand programs and establish regional networks across the country.  Funds from the ten million grant program should be awarded this summer.  I am encouraged by all of these activities.  Mr. Chairman I urge you to schedule an in-person hearing or briefing so we can get an update on this important work.

I want to thank the witnesses for appearing before the Subcommittee today.  I look forward to your testimony and yield back my time.