White supremacist propaganda in 2020 reached highest level in at least 10 years: ADL

White supremacist propaganda in 2020 reached highest level in at least 10 years: ADL
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White supremacist propaganda reached its highest level in at least 10 years amid the pandemic, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released Wednesday

The ADL’s Center on Extremism documented a total of 5,125 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ flyers, tickers, banners and posters being distributed, amounting to an average of more than 14 incidents per day.

The number marked the highest number of incidents counted since the group began tracking data 10 years ago.

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The number of incidents almost doubled when compared to the 2,724 cases in 2019, despite the pandemic sometimes limiting social activity across the country in 2020.

A total of 283 cases were categorized as having anti-Semitic language or targeting Jewish institutions in a 68 percent jump from 2019’s statistics. 

“Hate propaganda is a tried-and-true tactic for white supremacists, and this on the ground activity is now higher than we’ve ever previously recorded,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. 

“White supremacists appear to be more emboldened than ever, and the election year, the pandemic and other factors may have provided these extremists with additional encouragement,” he added. 

The report from the ADL comes after a tumultuous year in the U.S. plagued by a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people, nationwide upheaval after the police killing of George Floyd and violent attacks on Asian Americans. 

The death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, catapulted the U.S. into unrest in the summer of 2020 with hundreds of organized protests across the country. 

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The report also comes after the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 that left several people dead, including Capitol Police officers. Media reports have surfaced indicating that some of the rioters that breached Capitol security were associated with white supremacist groups. 

On Saturday, prosecutors revealed that an Army reservist who allegedly took part in the Capitol attack was widely known to be a white supremacist and made anti-Semitic remarks during his time serving at a naval facility in New Jersey. 

The ADL identified at least 30 white supremacist groups that sent out the propaganda, although three of these groups were responsible for 92 percent of the incidents: Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association and Nationalist Social Club. 

Patriot Front, which is based in Texas, accounted for 80 percent of the cases and distributed propaganda in all but two states — Hawaii and Kansas. The group primarily focusing in Texas, Washington, California, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, according to the report.

Slightly more than 300 incidents of white supremacist propaganda were reported on college campuses, down from 630 in 2019 as many campuses shut down for at least part of the year due to the pandemic.

“Propaganda gives white supremacists the ability to maximize media and online attention while limiting their risk of exposure or arrest,” Oren Segal, the vice president of the Center on Extremism, said in a statement. 

Last year also saw 56 white supremacist events in a 26 percent decline when compared to 2019, with more than half of the events being unannounced demonstrations, including one in February at the National Mall, according to the report.