Dems want domestic terrorism probe
© Getty
Democrats want the Senate to investigate domestic terrorism in the wake of a South Carolina shooting that left nine dead. 
 
Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs Biden hopes to boost climate spending by billion MORE (Vt.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing MORE (Ill.); Richard Blumenthal (Conn.); Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCaitlyn Jenner exploring bid for California governor: report WokeWorld comes for 'oppressor' Obama: Activists rip school being named after 'deporter in chief' Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision MORE (Calif.); Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsFive takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (Del.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken#MeWho? The hypocritical silence of Kamala Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls Gillibrand: Cuomo allegations 'completely unacceptable' MORE (Minn.) said in a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyNumber of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing The Hill's Morning Report - GOP pounces on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (R-Iowa) that lawmakers "must address the reality of domestic terrorism spurred by racial hatred head on."
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We urge you to hold hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the threat posed by domestic terrorism and homegrown hate groups," the senators said in the Tuesday letter. "In the past, mass violence in our country has been explained away as an act of insanity to be treated as a mental health issue. What we saw in South Carolina is about hate, and it is about evil."
 
The letter comes after a gunman opened fire earlier this month on congregants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine.
 
The six senators, who are members of the Judiciary Committee, suggested that the hearings could focus on domestic terrorism and "homegrown hate groups," including how the groups recruit and spread their ideology, as well as how they plan out their attacks and choose potential targets.
 
The committee previously held a hearing on hate crimes after a 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. 
 
The Department of Justice announced earlier this month that federal officials would investigate the Charleston shooting as a hate crime, but the senators said it must also be looked at as an act of domestic terrorism. 
 
"We often think of terrorism as the sacrifice of innocent lives in service to a murderous ideology, and [suspect Dylann] Roof’s actions were clearly driven by bizarre and perverse beliefs," they said. "If this same act had been perpetrated by someone claiming a desire to harm Americans in the service of Islamist principles, it would immediately be labeled an act of terror."