FBI announces a massive white supremacist gang bust — but there's no sign Trump cares
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrest of dozens of white supremacists in a bust of a gang in Arkansas known as the New Aryan Empire, which is suspected of being a racketeering organization. The FBI made the arrest, in connection with the Little Rock district offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF):
"According to the allegations in the indictment announced today, New Aryan Empire associates maintained their criminal enterprise by engaging in multiple acts of violence — including kidnapping and attempting to murder one informant, and stabbing and maiming two others suspected of cooperating with law enforcement," said Assistant Attorney General [Brian] Benczkowski. "I want to thank our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for vigorously investigating this vicious criminal organization."
The case, named "To The Dirt," which is in reference to the NAE slogan referring to the rule that members must remain in the NAE until they die, began in 2016 when ATF assisted the Pope County Sheriff's Office in a murder investigation. The murder involved members of the NAE, a white supremacist organization that began as a prison gang and has since expanded beyond the prisons. Investigators learned that several members of the NAE conducted meetings in Pope County and became involved in methamphetamine distribution.
While justice is likely to be served in this case, President Donald Trump seems wholly uninterested in giving law enforcement the specialized tools they need to pursue cases like this.
In 2017, the Trump administration froze funding for the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Violent Extremism program, which issues grants to communities to combat far-right and white supremacist extremism. The administration considered diverting these funds to counter Islamic extremism instead, and in 2018 the DHS revealed it has no plans to extend the program beyond this year, when it runs out of funding.
Homegrown right-wing domestic terrorism is a serious problem. In 2018, the far right was responsible for every extremist killing in the United States. The president has shown little concern for this danger, even going so far as to say that there were "some very fine people on both sides" of the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended with a deadly vehicle-ramming attack.
America needs leadership on this issue. And Trump seems unwilling to provide it.