Doug Jones: Trump unintentionally giving 'green light' to hate crimes

Doug Jones: Trump unintentionally giving 'green light' to hate crimes

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) said in an interview with Newsweek published Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE is unintentionally giving a "green light" to hate crimes.

When asked whether he was worried that the Trump administration may be inciting violence toward LGBTQ communities, Jones said yes.

"I do think sometimes people get so caught up in their own zealousness about an issue that they forget how much words matter," the Alabama lawmaker said.

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"They have a pulpit by which people can take things the wrong way, and there’s a lot of people out there looking toward them for a green light to do bad things. But I want to make it clear: I’m not saying that these guys are intentionally trying to incite violence. I do not believe that. But I do believe that some of their words unintentionally can give a green light to people, and that’s what we’ve got to be careful of."

Jones, who won a contentious Senate special election against Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreMontgomery, Ala., elects first African American mayor GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville says Trump has 'put a noose' around farmers' necks with trade war Sen. Doug Jones launches reelection bid in Alabama MORE in 2017 for the seat vacated by then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE, spoke with Newsweek while promoting his new book, "Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights."

In it, Jones, who as a U.S. attorney successfully prosecuted the KKK members responsible for the 1963 bombing, discusses the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s and the lessons that can be applied today.

"I think we’re sliding backwards," Jones said when asked why he was writing the book now. "We’re seeing an increase in voter suppression in the name of political power and it hurts all minorities. We’re also seeing a rise in hate crimes, and more anti-Semitic crimes than we’ve had in years. There’s more hateful speech out there. We saw what happened in Charlottesville."

The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual study on hate groups reported that in 2018 the number of such groups in the U.S. reached a 20-year high. 

Trump has received sharp criticism for saying that "both sides" were to blame for violence at the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

"If we don’t learn the lessons from history, we’re doomed to repeat the bad things, so I think now more than ever, people need to see and understand fully the sacrifices made by the civil rights movement so we can prevent similar types of terror in the future," Jones said.