Henry Stern Announces Legislation Designed to Combat Domestic Terrorism

California State Senator Henry Stern addresses the crowd, March 2019

California State Senator Henry Stern, who represents Malibu in Sacramento, announced plans for legislation to help the state detect and combat domestic terrorism “by white nationalist militia groups,” according to information shared by Stern’s press office on Monday, Jan. 11.

Stern, a Democrat, announced the plans together with fellow Democrat Tom Umberg of Orange County, that “would require both the Attorney General and the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to create units focusing on domestic terrorism.”

The announcement comes less than a week after a domestic terrorist assault on the United States Capitol in Washington DC that left one police officer dead, along with four members of a mob that stormed the building while the legislature was in session certifying the recent election.

According to Stern and Umberg, the legislation will establish a State Threat Assessment Center within CalOES, the state department in charge of, “coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery and homeland security activities within the state,” according to its website. The center will especially focus on potential threats from white nationalists, with Stern and Umberg listing neo-Nazis, neo-confederates and anit-government militias among those groups to be assessed—specifically naming “similar groups” such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and the Ku Klux Klan.

The legislation will also establish an investigation team under the California Department of Justice to “investigate and coordinate efforts to thwart acts of domestic terror, hate crimes and other criminal activity” by the same groups.

The press release referred specifically to the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

“Let’s be very clear. What happened last week [Jan. 6] was not Antifa. it was effectively sponsored by a president and his loyalists in local, state and federal office who have been encouraging and supporting the white nationalist movement, helping it get bigger and stronger to try and normalize the types of atrocious activities we witnessed in Washington,” Stern was quoted as saying in the written statement. “We have to respond not just with blustery condemnation, but with a concrete answer to this threat to domestic security.”

In the wake of last week’s insurrection, many state legislatures around the country have discussed strengthening efforts to combat domestic terrorism, along with addressing calls for the removal of lawmakers on both the state and national level who threw support behind the attackers.

Stern’s press office estimated the legislation, once introduced, would be referred to a senate policy committee and would likely be set for hearing in March 2021.