After spending last weekend in Alabama visiting landmarks of the civil rights movement, Sen. Harry Reid today said proposed cuts to federal law enforcement will hamper efforts to combat modern-day hate groups.
Reid, D-Nev., was joined in a telephone call by civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors domestic extremists.
According to the center, 15 groups that espouse neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant, racist or white supremacist views are active in Nevada. The center has identified 1,002 throughout the United States.
"These groups are far too prevalent in Nevada and around the country," Reid said. He said a Republican bill that cuts $133 million from the FBI would hamper the agency’s ability to infiltrate and investigate organizations that Dees said have killed 32 police officers since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
FBI director Robert Mueller has said that domestic terrorist groups pose more danger to the United States than al Qaeda, according to Dees.
Reid said the budget cut especially was puzzling in light of a Republican-organized domestic terrorism hearing in U.S. House on Thursday that focused on American Muslims.
"The Republicans’ willingness to slash the FBI budget at the same time decrying domestic terrorism shows a lack of seriousness," he said.
Reid added he was opposed to the House hearing in the first place. "I am concerned the same way I would be about congressional hearings to investigate Catholics, Mormons, Jews or people of any other faith based solely on their religion."
Reid connected with Dees while taking part in a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Ala., where participants re-enacted the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 7, 1965, in an episode that became known as Bloody Sunday, civil rights demonstrators were attacked by armed officers as they attempted to cross the bridge on a march to the state capital of Montgomery.