The Illinois Senate Wants Police To Classify Neo-Nazis As Terrorists

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Halfway across the country from the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, politicians have also decided to act. Even though Chicago has seen numerous protests and solidarity vigils since a white supremacist rally sparked deadly violence, the real change may come from several hours south in the Springfield state capitol. On Sunday, the Illinois senate passed a resolution to classify neo-Nazis as terror groups.

As The Chicago Tribune reported, following "senseless acts of violence that continue to terrorize members of ethnic and religious minority communities," the resolution urges law enforcement to recognize neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups as terrorist organizations. The text reads:

We urge law enforcement to recognize these white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations, and to pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism.

The resolution also calls on the text to be shared with "the President of the United States, all members of the United States Senate, all members of the United States House of Representatives." Perhaps this is so that it may have a larger impact, resonating beyond the state. The news has since been reported several times nationally.

The resolution came in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by a white supremacist rally when one counter-protester, a 32-year-old woman, was run down by a white nationalist. Another 19 were injured in the attack, bringing the total number of injured to more than 30. Two state police were also killed when the helicopter they were using to monitor the situation crashed.

Sponsoring Illinois Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat, released a statement on the matter:

It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend. They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today.

In addition to calling on law enforcement to classify these groups, the Senate also denounced such ideologies and violence. "We strongly denounce and oppose the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis," the resolution read.

The resolution will also be sent to the Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner, a Republican that was slow to condemn the violence in Virginia as "terrorism." Local radio reported that he called the events "horrible behavior" but refused to use the word terrorism when "asked repeatedly by reporters in Chicago." He then later issued a statement that said it was "absolutely an act of domestic terrorism."

The Illinois Senate's may serve as a model for elected bodies across the country.