The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia urges members of West Virginia’s Congressional delegation to oppose short-sighted attempts to expand harmful domestic terrorism laws in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Instead, members of Congress should hold law enforcement accountable for the continued failure to address the rising threat of white supremacist violence, ACLU-WV Executive Director Joseph Cohen wrote in a letter to U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, and Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller.

“Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies have for decades used existing authorities and crimes to wrongly and unfairly target communities of color without the safeguards, transparency and accountability these communities have long sought,” Cohen wrote in the letter. “Any further expansion of police powers and criminalization will harm the very communities that Congress seeks to protect.”

Law enforcement already has adequate laws at its disposal to investigate and prosecute white supremacist violence in accordance with the Constitution.

“What is lacking, however, is the will to do so,” Cohen said in the letter.

Instead, federal authorities have routinely used criminal statutes for decades to oppress Black civil rights activists, environmentalists, and others.  

ACLU-WV urges Congress to demand answers from federal law enforcement and to obtain data regarding the lack of investment of resources into combatting white supremacist violence. Congress should also pass a modified version of the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act to address current police practices that violate people’s constitutional rights.  

Read Cohen’s full letter below: