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 TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence 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 MooreThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run MORE in 2017 for the seat vacated by then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSenate Democrats demand Trump fire Stephen Miller The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes 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.