Lawmakers in Washington state are expected to vote on a proposed bill that would establish a Commission on Domestic Violent Extremism. HB 1333 is the policy response to a study conducted by the Office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which found a need to address “increasing radicalization” following the U.S. Capitol riot.
“On the 2nd anniversary of the attempted coup against our country, I'm proud that my office published a report on domestic violent extremism that is being called ‘a model for the nation’ that argues for a public health approach to addressing the increasing radicalization,” Ferguson tweeted on January 6 of this year.
“We must urgently address the factors leading to the rise in violent extremism and white supremacy,” Ferguson wrote in the introduction to his report. “The beauty of our state lies in its diversity and there is no place for hate.”
The report recommended state lawmakers take a series of steps to address “extremist and political violence; threats, coercion, and intimidation; online disinformation; extremist recruitment and government infiltration efforts; and the general spread of extreme white supremacist, antigovernment, and other ideologies.”
Such steps include bolstering security for elections workers, training state employees to identify early signs of radicalization, combating disinformation and misinformation through government-funded journalism fellowships, and establishing a commission to recommend new laws to address domestic violent extremism.
In my opinion, such a commission is long overdue. Right-wing extremism has taken over the streets of Washington state for far too long and, in many cases, has either been ignored or even actively supported by those in power.
In 2020, far-right extremists lit police cars on fire in downtown Seattle and looted dozens of businesses. The next week, those same right-wing terrorists, motivated by an extreme anti-government ideology, took over six blocks of the city, including a police precinct, and attempted to establish an independent state.
During the month-long occupation, several right-wing extremists patrolled the area with high-powered assault rifles (weapons of war). Journalists were assaulted and intimidated.
Scared to stand up to these radical right-wing terrorists, some city council members and political candidates defended – and even celebrated – their actions.
"What I don't want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told looting doesn't solve anything," Councilwoman Tammy Morales said after the downtown riot.
“Thank you to the heroes that set the Children's Jail on fire,” a candidate for Seattle City Attorney tweeted, following the arson of construction trailers near the King County Juvenile Detention Center.
Later that summer, the violence continued, as two right-wing fascists firebombed the headquarters of a police union in South Seattle, leading the FBI to offer a $20,000 reward for information.
This sort of brazen violence from the right-wing is nothing new in Washington state and has gone almost completely unchecked by the party in power for the better part of a decade.
For years on end, peaceful May Day marches for worker and immigrant rights were disrupted by members of an anti-government extremist group dressed all in black. The right-wing faction assaulted reporters, vandalized businesses, and clashed with police. In 2016, a Seattle PD officer was struck in the head with a rock and another was hit with a Molotv cocktail.
Even further back in time, starting in 2011 and extending into 2012, right-wing extremists occupied the grounds of Seattle City Hall, Westlake Park, and Seattle Central Community College, often marching in the streets and openly vandalizing financial institutions as part of their anti-government animus.
After years of unchecked right-wing extremism in Seattle and beyond, it is so refreshing to see politicians finally take such acts of terrorism seriously.