Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke out against domestic extremism and racism on Monday while visiting the sites of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in his first official trip since his confirmation.
Garland visited Tulsa ahead of the 100th anniversary of what is considered the worst race massacre in the nation’s history. He also delivered remarks at the Oklahoma City memorial on the 26th anniversary of the deadly bombing.
In an interview with ABC News, Garland said both incidents were rooted in the same form of hatred and domestic extremism.
"I’d been to Oklahoma before, but I’d never been here and this is a moment where it’s important, you know, to come to a place like this," Garland told ABC News. "The kind of devastation that happens here is a product of the same kind of hated that led to the bombing in Oklahoma City."
As a federal prosecutor, Garland played a key role in the government’s investigation and eventual prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two domestic terrorists who carried about the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh was later sentenced to death for his role in the attack, while Nichols received life in prison.
Garland has pledged that the Justice Department will prioritize a crackdown on domestic extremism.
"It’s really a throughline from the creation of the Justice Department and Reconstruction," Garland added regarding his trip to the sites. "They are similar kinds of devastation brought by terrible hatred. So I felt I needed to see it and face it."
In remarks earlier in the day at the Oklahoma City memorial, Garland noted that domestic extremism is an active threat in the country more than a quarter-century after the bombing.
"Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us," Garland said. "Just last month, the FBI warned of the ongoing and heightened threat posed by domestic violent extremists. Those of us who were in Oklahoma City in April 1995 do not need any warning."