NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Cory Booker on Thursday said he would create a White House office to combat white supremacy and hate crimes if elected, becoming the latest Democratic presidential candidate to call for action after a racially motivated massacre in Texas.
Booker said he would also require the FBI and the Justice Department to allocate the same level of resources and attention to white supremacist-inspired violence as they devote to international terrorism.
The New Jersey senator announced his plan less than two weeks after a gunman in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 people inside a Walmart after posting an anti-immigrant screed online that echoed some of President Donald Trump's heated rhetoric. The attack was among three mass shootings in the span of a week that killed 34 people in all.
The incidents have roiled the presidential race, with Democrats accusing Trump, a Republican, of fomenting hatred while failing to embrace common-sense gun restrictions. Several candidates, including Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday, have released plans to fight gun violence and white supremacy in the days since the El Paso massacre.
Trump, who has said he is not a racist, has expressed support in the wake of the shooting for "red flag" laws that limit access to guns for dangerous people and a potential expansion of background checks for gun purchases. He has not endorsed any specific legislation.
Related: Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) listens to CIA Director Mike Pompeo respond to his question as Pompeo testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Pompeo's nomination to be secretary of state on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) answers questions at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive Festival 2017 in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) waves after Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that would replace Obamacare on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attends New York premiere "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" at Radio City Music Hall in New York, March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the second day of confirmation hearings on Senator Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) nomination to be U.S. attorney general in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) addresses the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington March 9, 2015.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats and unemployed Americans to highlight their political divide with Republicans over unemployment insurance legislation, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 16, 2014. Efforts to renew emergency federal jobless benefits for 1.5 million Americans stalled in the Senate on Tuesday when Democrats and Republicans rejected each other's proposals. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
U.S. Senators' Cory Booker (D-NJ) (C), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John McCain (R-AZ) (lowerR) are pictured in the gallery prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) stands next to his mother Carolyn Booker (C) after U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (R) ceremonially swore in Booker as the latest U.S. Senator in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 31, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats welcomed a new colleague to the U.S. Senate on Thursday, newly elected Booker, and the additional vote Booker gives them in the Senate. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker delivers a speech during his campaign's election night event in Newark, New Jersey, October 16, 2013. Democrat Booker, the charismatic mayor of Newark, was the unofficial winner of a New Jersey special election on Wednesday, handily defeating a conservative Republican to fill the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker listens to U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaking to students during a visit to the Maple Avenue school in Newark, New Jersey, November 18, 2010. Michelle Obama was making the visit along with Booker to promote her "let's Move" initiative to reduce childhood obesity. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (R) speaks to the media outside a burned house in Newark, New Jersey, April 13, 2012. Booker said on Friday he was no superhero, only a good neighbor when he broke free from his security detail to dash into a burning house and rescue a woman. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)
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Last week, at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist gunned down nine people in 2015, Booker criticized Trump's language while linking the El Paso shooting to the United States' long history of racism.
"To say this is to speak the truth plainly, because with the truth there can be no reconciliation," said Booker, who is African-American.
The proposal builds upon Booker's sweeping anti-gun violence plan that would, among other things, establish a national licensing program for gun ownership.
Booker's campaign likened his proposed White House Office on Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence to other agencies that presidents have convened to coordinate responses to major domestic crises, such as the White House Office of AIDS Policy.
Under his proposal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies would be required to conduct assessments of white supremacist threats and improve reporting of hate crimes. Booker would also create an advisory group of leaders from communities hurt by hate crimes to advise his administration.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)