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California Senators Call For Units Focusing On Domestic Terrorism Following U.S. Capitol Attack

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two local state senators Monday announced plans to introduce legislation requiring both the California Attorney General and the California Office of Emergency Services to create units focusing on domestic terrorism following last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Security forces respond with tear gas after the US President
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/06: Security forces respond with tear gas after the US President Donald Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol security. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)

"Let's be very clear," Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, said. "What happened last week [at the U.S. Capitol] wasn't 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," he continued. "We have to respond not just with blustery condemnation, but with a concrete answer to this threat to domestic security."

Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a retired U.S. Army colonel who secured numerous convictions of white supremacists as a federal prosecutor, said he was "appalled" at the riots and the failure of law enforcement to respond.

"What struck me about last week's events, aside from being incredibly sad, is the incredible failure of our intelligence gathering and analytic ability," he said. "The only way you can effectively investigate and prevent these kinds of attacks or incidents is with actionable intelligence.

"If this were a military operation where there was so much information that was in the blogosphere and in the internet world about what was going to happen and we failed to adequately gather and operationalize it, that would be an indictment of our capability to handle these situations," he continued. "We need both state and federal mechanisms to gather, analyze and operationalize intelligence or this is going to continue to happen."

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The lawmakers said the legislation, which was still being drafted and was expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, would call for:

  • establishing investigation teams at the Department of Justice to investigate and coordinate efforts to thwart acts of domestic terror, hate crimes and other criminal activity by white nationalist, neo-Nazi, neo- confederate, anti-government militia and other similar groups, such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and the Ku Klux Klan; and
  • establishing within the Cal OES State Threat Assessment Center a new operation to take steps necessary to assess potential threats from such groups.

"The most effective way to combat domestic terrorism is with actionable intelligence gathered from all reliable investigative agencies," Umberg said.

Once introduced, the bill will be referred to a Senate policy committee and will likely be set for hearing sometime in March.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, called on California Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra and Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer to go after local residents involved in the insurrection.

"I know the [U.S. Department of Justice] is working on this, but the wheels of justice move slowly," Min, a former Securities and Exchange prosecutor, said. "It seems very clear there were a number of California residents involved and a number of Orange County residents."

Umberg said he "wholeheartedly supported" Min's call for local law enforcement to get involved in the investigation and prosecution of Southland residents involved in the insurrection.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement that his office was assisting federal and state authorities to go after rioters.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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