Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said on Monday that the Justice Department was pouring resources into its effort to stop domestic violent extremists and that those who attacked the United States would be brought to justice, in a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
As a young Justice Department official, Mr. Garland led the investigation into the 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the worst domestic terror attack in American history. Timothy J. McVeigh, an Army veteran who hoped to use violence to spark an anti-government revolution, was ultimately convicted of using a massive truck bomb to destroy the federal building and kill 168 people, including 19 children.
“Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,” Mr. Garland said. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.”
Mr. Garland’s trip to Oklahoma also included a visit to a memorial in Tulsa for the 1921 race riot in the city that killed as many as 300 people and burned down more than 1,200 homes in one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history.
In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Garland called the Tulsa riot “the product of the same kind of hatred that led to the bombing in Oklahoma City,” and said both were “brought by terrible hatred.”
Mr. Garland made his public comments as the Biden administration’s works to combat domestic extremism in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that included members of anti-government militias and other right-wing extremist groups.
An intelligence report delivered to Congress last month warned that extremist groups pose a rising threat, with extremists who are motivated by race more likely to attack civilians, and members of anti-government militias more likely to target law enforcement and government buildings and employees.
The Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the Jan. 6 attack represents the administration’s most visible effort to combat domestic extremism.
That effort gained ground on Friday, when Jon Ryan Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers militia who was charged in connection with the assault, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government’s efforts to pursue charges against other assailants.
Mr. Garland also told ABC News that “we do not yet have equal justice under law” in America, and that it is “an important part of the role of the Justice Department to help bring it about.”
His comments were broadcast hours after lawyers delivered closing arguments in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer accused in the death last year of a Black man, George Floyd, that fueled nationwide racial justice protests and civil unrest.
“Racism is an American problem,” Mr. Garland said. “It’s plain to me that there has been and remains discrimination against African Americans and other communities of color, and other ethnic minorities. I think it’s reflected in discrimination in housing and employment and the justice system.”
He vowed to “use every resource we have available to ensure that equal justice occurs.”
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