The Biden Presidency and Hate Crimes

Bill Lockyer

February 1, 2021

President Joe Biden launched his campaign after watching a 2019 speech delivered by then-President Donald Trump regarding violence at a white nationalist rally.

The line of Trump’s speech that incited Biden to action was that there existed “very fine people on both sides.” One protester of the racist rally had died, explains Bill Lockyer.

While the Trump presidency found support from the white supremacist community, Biden’s stance on crime, especially hate crimes, should provide support for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, said Bill Lockyer. The two agencies work in tandem on issues of domestic extremism and terrorism.

Bill Lockyer

Bill Lockyer

The year of the Trump speech, 2019, set a record for hate-crime killings, according to FBI records, said Bill Lockyer. The mounting violence poses a domestic security threat, say think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Expect the Biden leadership to make things tough for domestic terrorists, the criminal category under which perpetrators of hate crimes fall, said Bill Lockyer. His nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke plans to increase her unit’s prosecution efforts focusing on hate crimes and white supremacy.

The President’s choice of the attorney general, Judge Merrick, presided at the prosecution of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing that resulted in 168 deaths, said Bill Lockyer. His experience provides a window into the attitude he would take toward prosecution as the federal justice system’s highest-ranking official. The looming start of the new administration has social media platforms actively eliminating terrorist accounts and sussing out disguised accounts.

While some argue for hate speech laws, First Amendment considerations limit the viability of that, said Bill Lockyer. Considerations of censorship, governmental favoritism, and political bias would raise issues in addition to the freedom of speech violations.

Biden will need to increase police forces at a time when many groups have called for defunding police departments. This would exacerbate the problem since local police often work with the FBI, DHS, and DOJ and form the first line of defense against terrorists. The Biden administration will need to find other methods of curbing civil rights violations, says Bill Lockyer.

Another area of potential change for his administration includes reversing the limitation on the National Counterterrorism Center’s ability to produce domestic terrorism assessments. This should include US higher education, Bill Lockyer stipulated, since it functions as a typical location for the indoctrination of youth for both domestic and foreign terrorist groups.

Biden, Clarke, and Merrick must find ways to foster discussion of civil rights issues and all prerogatives while stemming the tide of violence, Bill Lockyer said.