Tuesday September 12, 2017

ICYMI: Steve Dettelbach Op-Ed in Cleveland Plain Dealer: Fighting Hate After Charlottesville


CLEVELAND – Last Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an op-ed by Ohio Attorney General candidate Steve Dettelbach, offering a personal and professional response to the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville a few weeks ago.

Dettelbach, who served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, discussed recommendations to combat hate groups, such as fostering greater coordination between state and county law enforcement agencies and improving data collection on hate groups.

As a career prosecutor who has overseen high-profile hate crimes cases as well cases against Islamic State disciples in Ohio, Dettelbach called for passing legislation that treat hate groups like terrorist organizations and to devote greater resources for law enforcement to root them out.

Dettelbach, a proud American Jew and native Clevelander, urged Ohioans to come together to talk about their differences, pledging to unabashedly discuss his Jewishness on the campaign trail.

Click here to read the full op-ed or see excerpts below:

I have spent more than two decades as a prosecutor battling hate crimes…

…Along with the FBI, I investigated and brought hate crime cases all over the country as a prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division and as an assistant U.S. attorney.

…Then, as the United States Attorney in Northern Ohio… I prosecuted cases including an arson at an African-American church, and a case involving the stockpiling of an arsenal by a white supremacist.

But my reaction to Charlottesville and its troubling aftermath has been more personal. Maybe it’s the video of the neo-Nazi chants that hit home.

…. I want to tell people that I am a proud American Jew.

… Being Jewish makes me an outsider at some level and helps me to understand how others on the outside can feel. It drives me to help protect people who don’t have power — people who are not part of the establishment and want to work hard but see they’re not playing on a level field.

From my experience, both prosecutorial and personal, there are some specific things we can do to help fight these violent extremist groups, the same way we fight international terrorism.

…State attorneys general should work with county prosecutors to form local Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils (ATACs), as the Department of Justice has done to fight other radical groups. These ATACs bring together and train local law enforcement.

…Second, we must follow the advice of groups like the Anti-Defamation League, and improve law enforcement data collection around hate crimes. Law enforcement must be aware of where hate crimes are occurring, so they may properly deploy the resources needed to root it out.

…Third we must pass legislation that labels hate groups like the terrorist threat they are, and then devote greater resources to law enforcement so they can disrupt them before commit violence.

…I have overseen cases against Islamic State disciples and other homegrown radicals. The parallels are striking. Both use sophisticated propaganda networks to recruit and target young men. We should use existing anti-terrorism models to fight them.

But first we must have the courage to talk.


Steve Dettelbach, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General, is a former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and career federal prosecutor.