Top Democrat calls for hearing after Portland 'domestic terrorist' attack

Top Democrat calls for hearing after Portland 'domestic terrorist' attack
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday called for the panel to respond legislatively to the recent fatal stabbing in Portland, Oregon. The incident was apparently motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), the Homeland Security Committee’s ranking Democrat, called the man who allegedly murdered two last Friday a "domestic terrorist." 

He said that the committee has not paid enough attention to attacks like the one in Portland and others since the 2016 election, noting that the incidents are influenced by white nationalist overtones aimed at Muslims and Jewish organizations.

Two men were fatally stabbed last week when they tried to stop a man, Jeremy Christian, from yelling anti-Muslim slurs at two young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

A third man who tried to step in and was allegedly also stabbed by Christian survived, and the two women were physically unharmed.

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"You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism," Christian said during his court appearance this week. Thompson noted the comment in a statement.

“These types of terrorist acts can no longer be ignored by this Committee for the sake of those who do not want to acknowledge that all forms of terrorism, no matter the ideology or the inspiration, are a threat to our safety, rights, and our homeland,” Thompson wrote in a letter to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“Terrorist acts are carried out by individuals with various racial, religious, and political backgrounds, but they all have a common goal — to use violence and intimidation to advance their beliefs,” Thompson added. “It is time for our committee to act.”

A spokeswoman for McCaul didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

The nearly 20 House Homeland Security Committee hearings held so far this year have mostly focused on issues like border security, cybersecurity threats and the Transportation Security Administration.

Thompson had previously asked McCaul in March to schedule a hearing on domestic threats to religious institutions and approve legislation to authorize $30 million in grants the Department of Homeland Security could provide to nonprofits considered at risk of terror threats.  

Thompson said Thursday he still hadn’t received a response to his March request.