Texas Governor Forms Domestic Terrorism Task Force

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced plans to form a domestic terrorism task force after the devastating mass shooting in El Paso.

The Republican governor ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to “take immediate action to combat any form of domestic terrorism.” Abbott also asked DPS to conduct a state intelligence assessment on any domestic terrorism threats in the state and proactively search for and monitor mass casualty and domestic terrorism threats.

“Our top priority is to keep Texans safe in their communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “Part of that mission is to combat domestic terrorism and root out the extremist ideologies that fuel hatred and violence in our state. This task force brings together leaders with the expertise Texas needs to develop effective strategies and combat domestic terrorism.”

Abbott continued: “Texas is stronger when we come together in pursuit of a shared goal and today’s actions are vital steps in our ongoing fight against extremism and violence."

"We stand united against those who wish to bring harm to our state, and together we will build a safer future for every Texan.”

The new task force will include local, state and federal officials, and it will meet quarterly to analyze and give advice on strategies to help combat domestic terrorism. Its members will include El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Members of the US Customs and Border Patrol.

Texas will also increase the number of DPS special agents and analysts in the agency’s Anti-Gang Centers to conduct investigations on “criminal gangs affiliated with Neo Nazi and White Nationalist groups and networks espousing terrorist attacks,” the statement said. The release did not mention whether the task force will look into Texas’ gun laws.

This is not the first time Abbott has taken action following a mass shooting. The governor took similar action after 10 people were killed at a school in Santa Fe, Texas last year, The Texas Tribune reported.

Abbott later signed a school safety measure that required school districts to design multi-hazard emergency operation plans and trained school employees on how to respond to emergencies. The measure also improved mental health initiatives for children.

Not everyone is in favor of Abbott’s task force. The Texas Democratic Party criticized the task force for lacking diversity, saying it only had members who were “law enforcement individuals and Republicans,” KETK reported.

“The first step in solving a problem is admitting we have one. In that respect, a Domestic Terrorism task force is a step in the right direction,” the Texas Democratic Party wrote in a statement. “However, lets be clear this was white nationalist terrorism and Governor Abbot needs to diversify the people whom he listens to. The task force completely lacks any real form of diversity, as it stands, it is comprised of only law enforcement individuals and Republicans. The same Republicans who have been fanning the flames of white supremacy and criminalizing immigration for political profit for years.”

Texas Democrats suggested the governor reach out to a number of civil rights, education, and advocacy groups for input. “It’s time for Abbott and Republicans to join Texas Democrats and create real and meaningful solutions that fight back against white supremacy and gun violence because half-measures will not cut it,” the statement added.

Three major mass shootings have occurred in Texas since Abbott assumed office in 2015. In 2017, 26 people were killed at Sutherland Springs church. Ten people were killed the following year at Santa Fe High School. The latest deadly attack at an El Paso Walmart near the Mexican border left 22 people dead and dozens injured.

The El Paso mass shooting is being treated by federal authorities as an act of domestic terrorism after a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto believed to be by the gunman emerged. The hateful document echoed statements made by President Donald Trump and warned of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Law enforcement officials said that the gunman allegedly cased the El Paso Walmart, searching for Latinx people to murder before launching his attack on August 3, ABC News reported. The shooter allegedly confessed to authorities that he was trying to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.”

The new task force will meet for the first time on August 30.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.