Testimony Supporting Establishment of Domestic Maryland Terrorism Task Force
Domestic Terror Testimony to Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
TO THE HONORABLE CHAIR, DELEGATE SMITH and MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE
Today I am present to strongly urge this committee to support the establishment of the Domestic Terrorism Taskforce as described in SB953; and as amended by the Senator Malcolm Augustine to include an appointment from the Prince George’s County Municipal Association.
As elected officials in the State of Maryland we take an oath of office calling upon us to protect and defend both the Constitution of the State of Maryland as well the U.S. Constitution. Our constitution calls upon us to defend our country from threats both foreign and domestic.
Domestic terrorism is real in the United States. While our country has made tremendous strides toward reconciliation given its often painful history of terror against minority communities, the attempted use of fear tactics and intimidation against minority communities, and even attempts to use domestic terror to intimidate governmental entities, is once again becoming a regular occurrence, especially given the Trump presidency as an accelerant. From the assault rifles at the Michigan State Capitol and attempted kidnaping of the Michigan governor, to the even more recent white supremacist driven attacks against people of Asian descent and asian communities. Domestic terror and white supremacy must be stopped. Not simply denounced, repudiated, or chastised, it must be stopped.
According to Washington Post reporting on the declassified National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, and DHS March 2021 Threat Report.
Domestic violent extremism poses an “elevated threat” to the United States this year, and lone offenders or small, self-organized cells — rather than organizations — are most likely to carry out attacks…racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and self-styled militias present the most lethal threats.”
Our country has made bold steps toward reckoning with a past shrouded in racism, and terror for many minority communities. Now is not the time to allow a group of jihadist-styled bullies to use violent intimidation tactics to assert their cynical viewpoint upon the broader American public. Especially not here in the State of Maryland.
In Maryland, given our proximity to the Nation’s Capital, home to some of the many federal agencies, resources and government workers, home to a diverse population of people, from many backgrounds, and given our respect for that diversity, we must ask ourselves, how can we protect our communities? How can Maryland ensure greater protection from domestic terror, through both prevention, but also in developing a coordinated response in the event an incident occurs either within the State or within the borders of a neighboring jurisdiction; such as the District of Columbia. In asking ourselves these questions, we must also answer honestly, knowing that State preparedness must mean prepared at all levels of government, including coordination amongst the Counties, and Municipalities.
I remind this committee that on January 6, 2021, pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, the President of the U.S. Senate, along with the full U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, were in the process of fulfilling their Constitutional duties. Unfortunately, in the weeks and days ahead of January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to go to Washington, D.C. to stop the certification of the election results, contending that the results were invalid. Similar sentiments were expressed by other elected officials across the United States who urged their colleagues to object to the electoral vote certification, thereby seeking to overturn the will of largely minority voters across the Country. During a rally planned for January 6th 2021 attendees did in fact enter and vandalize both chambers and Congressional offices and committed acts of violence and theft during their siege on the Capitol.
I, like many Maryland residents, sat at home watching the brazen criminal acts committed- glued to the various news cycles, completely aghast and horrified. Many residents living within the municipalities along the DC border publicly expressed fear and deep concern understanding the insurrection, the act of domestic terrorism, framed as patriotism was occurring only a few miles away; right up the road for some.
The lives of residents from the City of Hyattsville, Maryland and the surrounding community, working in or near the Capitol, were imperiled by the rally attendees turned insurrectionists who sought to do harm to person and property. Local press reported to our residents on sudden incidents of concern in both Riverdale Park and Takoma Park, heightening the level of fear and anxiety within our communities. The Town of Brentwood along with the City of Mt. Rainier called in additional police officers to assist in securing the DC border at the intersection on Maryland RT1 and Eastern Ave, fearing the potential ingress or egress of rioters and the weapons they carried with them.
To this committee I ask you to remember that five individuals died as a result of the violent attempt of insurrectionists to disrupt Congress from opening and counting the electoral votes certified by each state. I ask you take into account the level concern within our communities and the benefits revisiting or emergency preparedness in the event of another domestic terror incident. The municipalities stand ready to partner with the State in this effort. Communities across our great State are counting on our ability to be prepared, especially given the added concern that officers were both injured protecting our Capitol, and some perhaps complicit in the actions that took place.
In closing I say thank you for your consideration of this Bill, and repeat my strong urging as supported by the City of Hyattsville and the Prince George’s County Municipal Association, of support for SB953 and the establishment of a Maryland Domestic Terrorism Taskforce.
Joseph A. Solomon
Hyattsville City Council Member