After a white supremacist used his vehicle as a weapon to purposefully attack anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, federal officials called the incident domestic terrorism. The incident, in fact, met the definition of domestic terrorism. But the perpetrator was not prosecuted under any of the available terrorism statutes. The defendant was instead charged with, and later pled guilty to, committing hate crimes. It is imperative that we recognize all forms of terrorism as terrorism and use the legal system fairly to prosecute all terrorist attacks as terrorism. But the current terrorism statutory framework hinders the ability to prosecute incidents of extreme-right violence as terrorism. This Article argues that many incidents of extreme-right violence are terrorism and should be prosecuted as terrorism. This Article also proposes Congress update the definition of “weapon of mass destruction” to include (1) the use of a vehicle as a weapon and (2) mass shootings. These definitional updates provide a viable path forward for prosecution of violent extreme-right perpetrators as terrorists because it would make available 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, 18 U.S.C. § 2339A, and the terrorism sentencing enhancement. The United States owes it to the victims of such horrific incidents of extreme-right violence to finally prosecute these perpetrators for what they are—terrorists.
changed title to "Prosecution" from "Protection"
"Equal Prosecution For All: Violent Extremism at the Intersection of Hate Crime and Terrorism,"
American University National Security Law Brief,
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/nslb/vol12/iss1/3