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The Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to identify extremists within its ranks. Following the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol — which several prominent Oklahomans attended — the federal organization is looking inward for avowed racists, white supremacists, and those who support violent domestic terrorism.

The internal review follows a “stand down” order within another federal organization, the Department of Defense, which determined that a number of DOD veterans took part in the violent riot. 5 people died at the Capitol that day, including a law enforcement officer who was filmed being beaten with a trash can. 

The Department of Homeland Security review will search for extremist ideation within several branches: Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard. While the government is committed to protecting free speech Alejandro N. Mayorkas, secretary of Homeland Security, confirmed that when it comes to hate groups and domestic terrorism, there is a line that cannot be crossed.

Weeding out extremism

There is a marked difference between that right and violence in furtherance of extremist ideologies,” Mr. Mayorkas said, while noting that those tactics used in the Department of Defense’s investigation will be used with DHS, including programming, resources, and listening sessions. 

Meanwhile, this is not the first time DHS has investigated members of its own organization.

In January 2020, a member of the Coast Guard was sentenced following an investigation which revealed a cadre of weapons and a “hit list” of political and media targets. Christopher Hasson, a coast guard lieutenant, was sentenced last year on weapons charges. 

DHS stated the investigation is not motivated by any particular event, but is part of President Biden’s commitment to weed out extremism and domestic terrorism violence groups within the federal government. As the third-largest government agency, the Department of Homeland Security is comprised of many branches of law enforcement who hold sway over citizens and residents in the United States, and employs over 250,000 government staffers. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...