Garland has only been at work for just over a month, but he has vowed to quell a resurgence of violence linked to white supremacy and right-wing militias.
“The Department of Justice is devoting its resources to stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and tackling the spread of the kind of hatred that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here.” today, ”said the Attorney General.
Notably, Garland made no mention in his speech of the most high-profile outbreak of right-wing violence in recent months: the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as members of Congress compiled the election results. presidential.
Garland called the investigation and prosecution of this event a “top priority.” A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his omission to make his remarks, but a federal judge in Washington last month complained about a former high-ranking prosecutor in the case granting a high-profile TV interview in which he speculated on a potential. charges of sedition against the rioters on the Capitol.
At a congressional hearing last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he couldn’t say much about the Capitol Riots investigation “out of respect for all judges who have opinions very strong on the advertising of current affairs ”.
During Garland’s speech on Monday, his voice quivered at times with emotion as he recalled the kindness of the local residents and the grief they experienced over the 169 deaths caused by a bomb blast from fertilizer placed in a Ryder truck parked in front of the Federal Building in Murrah. in downtown Oklahoma City.
“I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for your thought of our comfort in the midst of your pain. Nor the depth of my admiration for the care the Oklahomans gave to those in pain, neighbors and strangers, ”Garland said.
Garland recalled some of his own involvement in the case, including arguing for the detention of bomber Timothy McVeigh in a hearing held at a nearby air base since the courthouse was destroyed. Juries later convicted McVeigh and his partner Terry Nichols for the attack.
McVeigh was executed in 2001. Nichols has received multiple life sentences and is in a Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Another accomplice who pleaded guilty cooperated with prosecutors, Michael Fortier, received a 12-year sentence and was released in 2006.
Memorial services for the victims of the bombings were held every year. A major memento was planned for the 25th anniversary of the bombing last year, but this event had to be fully uploaded due to the pandemic.
Many speakers at Monday’s event praised Garland for his work in prosecuting the men responsible for the bombing. However, other leaders also spoke of the dangers of political division and extreme rhetoric.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has spoken out against the culture of cancellation, suggesting that efforts to marginalize unpopular ideas or individuals could lead to violence like the one seen in Oklahoma City in 1995.
“Never in our life has it been easier for us to be divided,” Stitt said. “There are groups that refuse to listen to another point of view. They are trying to cancel out anyone who sees the world differently. ”
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt pointed out that hateful language and the demonization of political opponents can encourage some people to take extreme measures.
“It starts with simple words, but those words behave like a virus and they are gateways to acts of unspeakable evil,” said Holt.
Garland began his trip to Oklahoma on Sunday by visiting the site of the worst outbreak of racial violence in America: the 1921 massacre in the Greenwood district of Tulsa. During the attack, white residents killed dozens of black residents, left dozens injured, and set a thriving African-American community on fire.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.