AUSTIN (Nexstar) — In addition to the new Domestic Terrorism Task Force, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also forming the Texas Safety Commission.
This commission is tasked with developing an immediate action plan for the state in the wake of the El Paso shooting that killed 22 people. According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the plan will include strategies to provide community healing, combat the rise of extremist groups and hateful ideologies, keep guns out of the hands of deranged individuals and combat domestic terrorism, including cybersecurity threats.
The Texas Safety Commission’s first meeting will be in Austin this Thursday, Aug. 22. It will be at the Texas State Capitol and will start at 10:30 a.m. The second meeting will be in El Paso the following Thursday, Aug. 29.
“The State of Texas will not relent in its effort to help the El Paso community heal and keep all Texans safe,” Gov. Abbott said. “The Texas Safety Commission will bring together experts and community leaders to develop an action plan to combat threats of domestic terrorism, root out extremist ideologies, and address the link between mental health challenges and gun violence in our communities. By working together, we will ensure a safe and secure future for all Texans.”
Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen will join gun safety and mental health experts at the first commission meeting, as well as lawmakers from the El Paso area: State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, State Rep. Cesar Blanco, State Rep. Joe Moody, State Rep. Lina Ortega and State Rep. Art Fierro. Clint ISD Superintendent Dr. Juan Martinez, Major Manuel Espinosa from the Texas DPS Criminal Investigation Division and Major David Cabrera from the Texas DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division will also attend the meeting. Other participants include Tory Mayo, the lead pastor of The Well Austin church; Karie Gibson, a supervisory special agent with the FBI; and representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter.
During a press conference following the shooting in El Paso, Gov. Abbott signaled support for getting technology companies involved with finding solutions for hate speech being spread online.
“We will also work on ways to address internet or online social media-based sites where racism or hate has been promoted, including trying to assemble groups that could help us meet those challenges,” Abbott said during the press conference.
Authorities were investigating a manifesto posted online before the deadly attack that they believe was written by the suspect. State and federal lawmakers denounced the racist language in the manifesto.
Parts of the commission meetings will be open to the press, similar to the roundtables that took place after the school shooting in Santa Fe.