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May 16, 2019

Rep. Pressley Discusses the Threat of White Supremacy to Black Americans and Our Democracy

WASHINGTON  – Yesterday, at a Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee Hearing on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties entitled Confronting White Supremacy: The Consequences of InactionCongresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) discussed the threat of White Supremacy to black Americans and the recent rise of far-right extremism in the United States.


In her testimony, Congresswoman Pressley highlighted the absurdity of the FBI’s surveillance of so-called “Black Identity Extremists.”


See below for an excerpt of Congresswoman Pressley’s testimony:


There is not a single doubt in my mind that the growing number of hate crimes taking place in this country are a biproduct of the hateful rhetoric being spewed regularly by the occupant of our White House.


This Administration has emboldened white nationalism, white supremacy and far-right extremism including Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, all while suggesting these groups do not present a growing threat to our communities and national security.


We know otherwise and the witness testimony we’ve heard today is further proof that this is not the case.


I want to thank the witnesses for being with us today and I want to extend my deepest condolences to Mrs. Bro and the countless other families who have lost loved ones due to intolerance, hate and bigotry. Mrs. Bro, your courage to come before us today and to stand up for what is right, is a testament to the love that guided Heather’s life and her quest for racial and social justice.


Although there is no hierarchy of hurt, throughout our nation’s history, hate crimes have disproportionately impacted the black community.


Since 1995, black Americans have been victims of 66% of all racially-motivated hate crimes. The numbers don’t lie. Black Americans continue to find themselves at the greatest risk.


This year marks 400 years since the first African slaves arrived on the shores of Jamestown in the hull of ships, robbed of their freedom, culture and humanity.


Racism against black Americans is entrenched in the enslavement of our African ancestors and has manifested in our nation’s institutions and policies.


And despite the progress we have made as a country, black Americans are still treated as second-class citizens, disproportionately targeted for: driving while black, walking while black, lunching while black, organizing while being black, literally existing while black.


In 2017, an FBI Intelligence Assessment leaked identifying quote unquote “Black Identity Extremists” as a prime threat to law enforcement officers. To be clear here, the FBI was tracking peaceful protesters while advising local law enforcement agencies that these groups were a violent threat. 


This is the same agency that secretly spied on Dr. King and Civil Rights activists for their pursuit of equality for black Americans— a movement that at the time, if we’re telling the truth, was vilified, and today we celebrate…


At a time when black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police, a document like the FBI’s Intelligence Assessment is not just misleading, it is reckless and dangerous…


One of Heather’s last Facebook posts shared was and I quote “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” I hope this conversation sparks the outrage that we need to finally shed light on the evils of white nationalism and far-right extremism and invokes the will and the courage to tackle it head on. Thank you and I yield.