Does a new report highlighting Virginia’s historically Black colleges make unfair assumptions about race, region and religion that could undermine civil liberties for African Americans?
A 200-page analysis produced by the Virginia State Police singles out Black-college campuses in Hampton Roads and Richmond areas at potential hotbeds for terrorist activities and urges that they are carefully watched.
While the report does not identify the institutions by name, there is no question that the reference is to Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Virginia State University in Petersburg and Virginia Union University in Richmond. Campus groups "are recognized as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group," the report says.
“Richmond's history as the capital city of the Confederacy, combined with the city's current demographic concentration of African-American residents, contributes to the continued presence of race-based extremist groups.”
However, the report acknowledges that none of the institutions cited have ever been the center of violence or terrorism, it calls for close monitoring “In order to detect and deter terrorist attacks.”
The American Civil Liberties Union calls the report outrageous.
Speaking before a Senate subcommittee last week, Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, said that reports like this one "would be laughable except that they come with the imprimatur of a federally backed intelligence operation, and they encourage law enforcement officers to monitor the activities of political activists and racial and religious minorities," Fredrickson said. "What is clear is that these abusive intelligence reports do nothing to improve security. Sharing misleading information about the ideologies and activities of nonviolent groups only undermines public support for law enforcement."