A six-member delegation from Chicago and Seattle was selected by the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (DHS/CRCL) to participate in the program which took place in Germany the beginning of this month. Det. Mark Vwich was selected as one of three delegates from the Seattle area because of his personal background and his community engagement with the Muslim, Sikh, and Arab (MSA) and East African (EA) Advisory Councils. DHS/CRCL selected Det. Vwich as a representative from Seattle to both help demonstrate the integration of diverse communities in the US into all aspects of society, including law enforcement, as well as help highlight our best practices with outreach and engagement being conducted at the local, state, and federal levels. The other two delegates from Seattle included Assistant United States Attorney, Bruce Miyake, and community member Ali San, from the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.
The delegation travelled to North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, Germany, in a follow-up to last year’s successful Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) program. The group engaged community leaders from local governments and NGOs to learn about strategies for countering violent extremist in all forms. Although the conversation in the United States often focuses exclusively on Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda inspired violent extremism, the German anecdotes helped communicate to the delegation about ongoing problems related to neo-Nazis, anarchists, communist factions, and Islamophobic political parties, some of which have been present in Germany for nearly a century. These historical examples provide context for U.S. violent extremist movements and help teach about different approaches to CVE.
The delegation gained and gave new insights with their German counterparts’ experience, causing each side to adjust its assessment of approaches to moves against violent extremists. With new insights, the Seattle delegation has returned home to share these insights to make Seattle a safer place.