‘Labels matter’ -- Michigan lawmakers push for stronger federal terrorism laws

Violence from domestic extremists likely to rise, state and federal officials say

Congressional panel looks at Michigan's role in fighting domestic terrorism

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is once again taking the lead on domestic terrorism across the country.

A hearing was held Wednesday in U.S. House of Representatives. The Homeland Security subcommittee on terrorism -- led by former CIA analyst and Department of Defense official Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin -- argued the U.S. should shift its focus from foreign terrorism to domestic.

“While external threats remain, the single greatest threat to our country right now is the threat of domestic terrorism and the tensions and polarization between us,” Slotkin said.

The past year has been marked by the resurgence of acts of domestic terrorism and extremist groups -- like those involved in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol Building and the 14 people accused of plotting to kill and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with state lawmakers.

Slotkin cited a new Homeland Security threat assessment that detailed that 2020 was a perfect storm for radical domestic groups.

“Extremists will continue to be radicalized and will mobilize around narratives,” Slotkin said. “Election fraud, pandemic restrictions, conspiracy theories and the attack response to the 6th.”

In early March, the Department of National Intelligence said the threat of domestic extremists will likely continue to rise throughout 2021. You can read the briefing here.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel testified as well. Michigan has long been seen as a leader against terrorism. The state has had its own terror laws on the books since 2002 and has been home to domestic extremist groups for decades with the two most dangerous kinds -- racially motivated and militias.

READ: Militias in Michigan: A troubling presence dating back decades

Nessel said the government needs to send a stronger message to those very groups.

“Domestic terrorists seek to send a message of fear, to intimidate and to coerce the conduct government,” Nessel said. “Our government must send its own message back by labeling extremist violence as domestic terrorism. Labels matter.”

About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.