Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Thornburgh Quotes Record Figures for Cases of Racial Violence in U.S.

November 3, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Justice Department opened a record 41 investigations into racial violence, involving 62 defendants, during the fiscal year just ended, U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh announced Thursday.

Among them were five Skinheads indicted in Dallas who “conspired to violate the rights of Jews, blacks and Hispanics.”

Thornburgh made his remarks, covering a broad range of subjects of Jewish and general concern, in an address to the National Executive Committee of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, which is meeting here through Sunday.

The attorney general, who also spoke about Justice Department efforts to facilitate Soviet emigration, investigate Nazi war criminals and fight international terrorism, said that his department has scored notable successes against perpetrators of racial bias crimes at home.

He pledged “to use the full weight of criminal law against hate groups and all those who would deny the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.”

He specifically mentioned the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazis and Aryan Nations as the kind of groups that “threaten the decency and community sanctity of our nation.”

The attorney general also spoke of a “breakthrough” in Nazi war crimes investigations, citing a memorandum of understanding signed with the procurator general in Moscow on cooperation between the two countries in that area.

The agreement between the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations and the Procurator General’s Office in Moscow formalized cooperation that has been practiced for the last eight to 10 years, “but never formally agreed on,” he said.

With respect to emigration from the Soviet Union, Thornburgh said that while in Moscow, he got a chance to study Soviet draft legislation on emigration reforms.

But he rejected a relaxation of Jackson-Vanik Amendment trade sanctions against the Soviet Union in the immediate future.

“Just passing a law is not enough,” he said. There should be a substantial period to see how the law is implemented, “to see how it has taken root before there can be relief under Jackson-Vanik.”

Observing that there were just 787 applications by Soviet Jews to enter the United States as refugees in 1986, he estimated there will be 100,000 in 1990.

He did not mention that the entire U.S. quota for refugee visas is 50,000 for all Soviet emigres in 1990.

Recommended from JTA