U.S. Hate Groups Rose 30 Percent In Recent Years, Watchdog Group Reports

  FEB 20, 2019
Originally published on February 20, 2019 9:19 pm

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

For the fourth year in a row, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, reports that hate and domestic extremism are rising in an unabated trend. The center found a 30 percent increase in U.S. hate groups over the past four years and a 7 percent increase in hate groups in 2018 alone, according to the center’s annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” report. The group designated 1,020 organizations as hate groups in 2018, a high of at least 20 years.

The watchdog group blames President Trump, his administration, right-wing media outlets and the ease of spreading hate on social media platforms for the alarming increase. The growth, it says, is largely driven by “hysteria over losing a white-majority nation to demographic change.”

“The numbers tell a striking story — that this president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said in a statement. “Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it — with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to to act on their worst instincts.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a revered civil rights watchdog group that has been around since 1971. It is credited with dealing the final blows to the Ku Klux Klan through legal battles.

But in the Trump era, it has been accused of blurring the line between watchdog and activist. Critics accuse the group of overblowing the threat of hate and including groups and individuals on its lists who might not belong, from anti-immigrant groups to exclusionary religious organizations. In 2018, SPLC President Richard Cohen publicly apologized and the group paid out $3.4 million to British political activist Maajid Nawaz for including him on its anti-Muslim extremist list in 2016. The self-declared former Muslim extremist is often criticized for aligning himself with right-wing anti-Muslim politicians, but even his critics questioned his inclusion on the list.

The center found that the majority of hate groups in the United States are driven by white supremacist ideology including neo-Nazis; the Ku Klux Klan, which is on the decline; white nationalists; racist skinheads; and neo-Confederates. But in reaction to the flourishing of white supremacists, the center says that black nationalist groups are also “growing their ranks.” It said the groups are often anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white but, unlike white nationalist groups, have little support and basically no sway in politics.

The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that “based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people typically for their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The center’s report tracks with the steady rise in hate crimes documented by the FBI from 2015 to 2017. It reported a 17 percent jump in hate crimes in 2017, with a particular increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes. But that list isn’t complete because local law enforcement agencies report hate crimes to the FBI on a voluntary basis.

The report found that although white supremacists are emboldened under the Trump administration and driven by the fear of the United States’ changing demographics — by 2044 the U.S. is expected to be majority minority— and by xenophobia, the groups are beginning to lose faith in the president. It quotes the now infamous white nationalist leader Richard Spencer as evidence. Spencer led a group of white supremacists in Nazi salutes and chants of “Hail Trump” after the 2016 election. But in 2018, following the midterms, he said, “The Trump moment is over, and it’s time for us to move on.”

Three groups are suing the Southern Poverty Lawsuit Center over their inclusion on the hate groups list. Among those suing is the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank that is widely seen as anti-immigration.

“We stand by our hate group listings,” said Heidi Beirich said in a press call. “I would suggest that people take a look at our extremist files … The Center for Immigration Studies, the group has a history of making racially inflammatory statements associating with white nationalists and circulating the work of racist writers.”

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The civil rights watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center says the number of hate groups in the U.S. is growing. The center attributes the rise to what it calls hysteria around the changing demographics of the country. NPR’s Leila Fadel reports.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: The annual “Year In Hate And Extremism” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says last year, the number of hate groups rose by 7 percent. It’s part of a four-year trend that has seen a 30 percent increase. Heidi Beirich, who heads the group’s Intelligence Project, says the majority of these groups are driven by white supremacist ideology.

HEIDI BEIRICH: The other thing that we have seen in recent years is a wave of racist and anti-Semitic violence break out across the country at levels that we hadn’t seen prior.

FADEL: She points to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, among others. The report states that this rise of hate groups is being driven by the president’s rhetoric and right-wing media that plays on fears of a less white country.

BEIRICH: The words and imagery coming out of the Trump administration, and from Trump himself, are heightening these fears. These images of foreign, scary invader – this is fearmongering, and it’s making people feel like this country is changing in a dangerous direction.

FADEL: The report points out there is a reaction happening – the growth in black nationalist movements with extremist views. The key difference, though, the report says, is they have little support or political sway.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been a stalwart of civil rights work for decades. But lately, it’s been the subject of controversy. Critics question whether it’s blurring the lines between its role as a watchdog and political activism. In 2018, the center’s president, Richard Cohen, apologized to British activist Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation for including him on a list of anti-Muslim extremists.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICHARD COHEN: Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists. We’d like to extend our sincerest apologies.

FADEL: It paid a settlement of $3.4 million. The Southern Poverty Law Center is also being sued by three organizations on the hate group list, including the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank that advocates for restrictive immigration policies. Beirich says she stands by the decision to include groups that she says disseminate hate speech.

One of their new report’s key findings is that some of the fringe groups that felt emboldened by the rise of President Trump are starting to lose faith in him. She warns that if these groups don’t feel there is a political path, more people could turn to violence. Leila Fadel, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A statement from NJAAH re: the attacks in New Zealand

The New Jersey Alliance Against Hate was founded on the principle that all peoples are entitled to safety, dignity, justice and respect. We are an alliance of groups frequently targeted for contempt, hate or harm. Its our intention to provide a forum where people of different backgrounds can meet, share, lament, plan when any one of the group has been a target of hate. Our member groups subscribe to the idea and action that If one of the group has been attacked, all members respond in unity in defense of that group, opposing the wrong doing. The group supports and encourages the aspiration that all children be taught within a non-bias education protocol.

In this spirit, the New Jersey Alliance Against Hate, and all our member groups, resoundly condemn the recent attacks on two Mosques in New Zealand, the murder of 50 of its members and the injury to many more. The murderer has been detained and will receive appropriate justice. The country of New Zealand has already changed its gun laws to limit access to the kind of weapons used in the murders. We applaud that courageous and decisive act.

The work of NJAAH and many, many other groups is ongoing, it is necessary, and daunting. Rejecting hate and the organizations fostering hate must go forward, on an on-going basis, on an ever-vigilant basis, on a collaborative basis. While all individual bias- reduction, hate-reduction groups must continue their work defending the members of their particular group, the work of opposing hate and bias is most powerful when all anti-hate groups stand together as well. All supportive groups, when working together are strongest when speaking in a single and loud voice.

It is NJAAH’s mission to bring all peoples together, to reject hate together and, at the same time, work on positive messaging and education in search of the path to reject humankind’s inhumanity to humankind and embrace all peoples equally and with respect. Everyone deserves a life lived in safety and a life lived with dignity.

For more information go to njaah.org.

FT Interfaith Council organizes vigil for 49 victims of terrorism in New Zealand

Dear friends and fellow community members,

Please join us and many of our fellow Franklin neighbors for a vigil tomorrow night in memory of the 49 victims of terrorism in New Zealand where 49 men, women and children killed praying in two mosques. 

The vigil will be held at Temple Beth El, 1489 Hamilton St. in Somerset. It will start at 8:00 pm, Saturday, March 16. 

 Let us in one voice to categorically condemn all form of hate and bigotry.  Today we are sick. Our hearts ache. Our heads are pounding. Our minds are reeling. We drop to our knees and beseech the Almighty, “How can this madness continue? How can a loving God stand by and watch this horror happen?” In the clearest of voices from the heavens, God responds, “I am not. You are letting this happen. I cannot do what you refuse to do, and if good people will do nothing to stop these nightmarish killings, I can only be here to weep with you.” 

Let’s come together and use this gathering to show solidarity and reaffirm our commitment to promote unity and understanding among all people and do our part to immunize our community from any form of hate and bigotry! 

Thank you,

Alex Kharazi, Ph.D                                                       Rabbi Eli Garfinkel

President, FT Interfaith Council                              Vice President, FT interfaith Council 

Leaving Hate Behind

On March 6, 2019 I drove Ross Wishnick to Rutgers School of Social Work in Camden where he spoke on a panel discussion entitled “Leaving Hate Behind” together with Tyree Ordein, DrPH, Safe Schools Coordinator of Garden State Equality and Ronald W. Pierce, Democracy and Justice Fellow of New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

-Lawrence R. Greenberg, PMP

Cedar Grove, NJ adopts anti-BDS resolution

Cedar Grove becomes 22nd New Jersey Municipality to Pass SWC Forwarded anti-BDS Resolution
The Simon Wiesenthal Center would like to offer our congratulations and appreciation to the township of Cedar Grove, NJ for voting last week to adopt the SWC forwarded anti-BDS resolution and becoming the twenty-second (22) local New Jersey municipality to do so.
A special thank you to each member of the governing body for using your important platform to help make sure that anti-Semitism, discrimination, and intolerance have no place in our society.
  • Mayor, Joseph Cicala
  • Deputy Mayor, Robbie Vargo
  • Councilmember, Harry Kumburis
  • Councilmember, Kerry Peterson
  • Councilmember, Peter Tanella
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Wiesenthal, 11 Broadway, Suite 766, New York, NY 10004

‘You need your voting power’: Florida’s ex-felons fight for their voting rights

NBC News

Florida’s electorate will vote on an amendment on the November ballot that would restore voting rights to most of the 1.7 million people who can’t vote because they have a felony conviction. Read the full story

Muslims crowdfund for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue attack

Crowdfunding has become a go-to effort for relief following hate crimes and mass shootings in the US.

US Muslim-American community raise tens of thousands of dollars for victims of shooting attack [Cathal McNaughton/ Reuters]
US Muslim-American community raise tens of thousands of dollars for victims of shooting attack [Cathal McNaughton/ Reuters]

The Muslim-American community has raised tens of thousands of dollars in a crowdfunding effort to help the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left at least 11 people dead and six wounded.

The campaign, which is hosted by Muslim crowdfunding site LaunchGood, aims to help shooting victims, “whether it is the injured victims or the Jewish families who have lost loved ones”.

It was started by Tarek El-Messidi, a Muslim-American speaker and founder of CelebrateMercy, a nonprofit organisation that “teaches about the Prophet Muhammad’s life and character”.

According to an update the campaign’s page, its original goal of $25,000 was raised in “only” six hours. The goal has now been extended to $50,000, with nine days left. At the time of publication on Sunday, the sum had exceeded $43,000.

Tarek El-Messidi

@Elmessidi

Muslims, let’s stand with our Jewish cousins against hate, bigotry, & violence.

CelebrateMercy@CelebrateMercy

MUSLIMS: Let us stand with our Jewish cousins against this senseless, anti-Semitic murder. Guided by our faith, @CelebrateMercy & @MPower_Change ask you respond to evil with good. Donate now to help shooting victims with funeral expenses & medical bills: http://launchgood.com/synagogue 

View image on Twitter

Robert Bowers, 48, has been named as the suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood. He has been charged with 29 offences, including hate crimes.

According to the Allegheny County medical examiners’ office, the 11 people killed in the synagogue included a married couple, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, and two brothers, Cecil and David Rosenthal.

David Rosenthal was the youngest at 54. The eldest was 97-year-old Rose Mallinger.

The dead also included Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

More donations

Another fundraising campaign was started on GoFundMe by Shay Khatiri, an Iranian who currently lives in Washington, DC, according to his profile on the website.

Khatiri, who appears not to have any direct connection to Pittsburgh, tweeted that his reason for starting the campaign was that he wanted to donate.

He said his “donation would be too little to make any change, but I could make a viral campaign” in response to questions about his motivations.

Andrea Karshan (((אֲבִיבָה)))@karshanandrea

I am just wondering what motivated you to start a gofundme for the synagogue since you aren’t a member. Can you please explain. Perhaps that will make people feel more comfortable.

Shay Khatiri@ShayKhatiri

That’s a fair question. I woke up today to my friend telling me what happened. My first reaction was “I’m gonna donate a little money to the synagogue to help them recover.” Then I realized that my donation would be too little to make any change, but I could make a viral campaign

The GoFundMe campaign has raised over $247,000, well over its original goal of $100,000. It has has extended its goal to $1m.

The Tree of Life synagogue is also accepting donations on its website, according to a post on the GoFundMe page.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Two more platforms have suspended Gab in the wake of Pittsburgh shooting

Stripe and cloud host Joyent have indicated that they will suspend Gab’s accounts

Hours after Paypal confirmed that it had suspended social network platform Gab, two additional companies have informed the site that they plan to suspend their services: payment processing site Stripe, and cloud hosting company Joyent.

Last night, Gab posted a screenshot of a notification from Joyent, which says that it “received notice of breach of the Joyent Terms of Service,” and that it would suspend the site as of 9:00AM ET on Monday, October 29th. Gab says that it will “likely be down for weeks because of this,” and that it is working on a solution.

Later that evening, Gab posted a second notification: Stripe says that it has suspended the site’s account while it conducts an investigation, saying that Gab has “not provided us sufficient evidence that Gab actually prevents violations of our policies in your Gab Pro service, or any other portion of your service that relies on Stripe for monetization.” Stripe estimates that its investigation conclude within a week.

A profile on the site maintained by the alleged shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, surfaced the immediate aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, which left eleven people dead and several others wounded. Screenshots revealed that Bowers had published numerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and that has placed Gab under increased scrutiny. While Gab says that it immediately suspended the man’s account and has cooperated with authorities, it has bristled at the suggestion that it was responsible for the environment that has made it an attractive home to those in the alt-right.

Gab has already been booted from other major platforms: Apple and Google have either prevented the site from releasing its app on their mobile stores, while earlier this summer, Microsoft threatened to drop its hosting if the site didn’t remove a pair of anti-Semitic posts within 48 hours. A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge that the company “terminated its Azure agreement with Gab last month.” Last night, Gab said that it expected to be banned by Facebook and Twitter “soon.”

We’ve reached out to Stripe, and Joyent for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

Update October 28th 11:45 AM ET: Updated with statement from Microsoft.

Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect Yelled ‘All Jews Must Die’ Before Opening Fire

BY ZACHARY STIEBER

October 27, 2018 Updated: October 27, 2018   

The captured suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting said that “All Jews must die.”

The suspect killed at least eight people at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27.

KDKA reported that he walked in initially yelling, “All Jews must die.”

The suspect had surrendered to police officers after also wounding three police officers, reported The Associated Press. The synagogue, one of the oldest and largest in the city, was full with a Saturday service. The suspect was injured.

Gab Profile

The suspect was identified as Robert Bowers by police officers speaking on police channels, reported independent journalist Nick Monroe. Bowers has not yet been officially identified as the suspect.

He appears to have been active on Gab, a social media website popular with people who have been kicked off of other social media sites.

In his profile, it says: “Jews are the children of Satan.”

Robert Bowers Gab profile and posts
(Robert Bowers/Gab)

Less than an hour before the shooting spree, Bowers posted on the website, saying: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

HIAS is a nonprofit that describes itself as “helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety and sanity.”

Bowers also made or shared multiple anti-President Donald Trump posts. In one, he called Trump a “globalist” and said that Trump was not “winning.” In a comment on another, he said: “For the record, I did not vote for him.”

‘You are animals who disgust me’: A school board candidate’s history of racist Facebook posts

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

August 18, 2018 at 4:15 PM

(Getty Images / iStock)

Richard Jankowski used Facebook to spew plenty of race-based vitriol — against former president Barack Obama, NBA player LeBron James or anyone supporting affirmative action — but in August 2014, as protesters poured into the streets over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Janowski boiled over.

“You g—–n animals in Missouri make me sick!” he typed in the public post originally reported by the New Jersey Globe, a political reporting site. “Another black criminal gets killed after assaulting a white cop and you pieces of s–t want justice? You are not Americans, you are animals who disgust me.”

Eight months later, Ferguson was on his Facebook page again, as he called for violence against protesters.

“So now I watch videos of the ‘protesters’ throwing trash cans and any other items at any white person they see…….time to start firing bullets into these f—–g monkeys and send them to their graves.”

Jankowski is one of six candidates running for three open seats on the school board in Monroe Township, N.J. In the district’s high school, more than a third of students identify as minorities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

It is not uncommon for news organizations to look closely at the backgrounds of people running for elective office. What is uncommon is for disparaging information to be laid out in a public social media post, easy for the world to see.

In posts uncovered by the Globe, whose article included images of Jankowski’s Facebook page, the candidate made insensitive or insulting remarks about: blacks, gays, people with mental disabilities, protesters, kneeling NFL players and specifically Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, O.J. Simpson, Caitlyn Jenner, Trayvon Martin, affirmative action supporters, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, Cher and “whoever the hell Moby is” — in addition to Obama, James and the protesters in Ferguson.

He offered apologies, conversely, to “my law abiding, hard working black friends that feel as though I have insulted them, it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

His personal Facebook page and the one for his campaign had both been deactivated or set to private by Saturday morning, and Jankowski did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Members of his community, meanwhile, were speaking out, either distancing themselves from Jankowski’s splenetic remarks or mobilizing to make sure he doesn’t attain the office he seeks.

Education leaders in the community said Jankowski’s comments do not reflect the board he was campaigning to join. The closest he’s come to the school board was being “vocal” at some meetings, Board of Education Vice President James Henderson told NJ.com.

Monroe Township Board of Education President George Caruso told NJ.com that anything Jankowski has said “doesn’t pertain to any school business. That’s between that gentleman and the rest of the community. He’s not on the school board.”

Related: [A teen spread a racist video of a black classmate eating chicken. Both face criminal charges.]

When Loretta Winters, the head of the Gloucester NAACP, heard about Jankowski’s comments, she mobilized an effort to ensure he never took a seat on the dais of the school board.

“You can’t refer to black folks or anybody as monkeys or animals,” she told The Washington Post. “And to say that ‘we need to get our guns out, and be shooting them,’ to me that’s almost a terroristic threat against any people of color.”

She said that similar reports ran in a local newspaper this week and that the next morning she received a phone call from Jankowski.

He “apologized profusely,” she said. More important, he told her he was dropping out of the race.

She said she accepted his apology but felt that he showed contrition only because “he got exposed.”

“Even though some of these comments were made a couple years ago, that’s who you are,” she said. “He cannot represent our children and our diverse community with thoughts like that.”

This post initially gave an inaccurate location for Monroe Township. This post has been corrected and updated. 

https://www-washingtonpost-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/education/wp/2018/08/18/you-are-animals-disgust-me-a-school-board-candidates-history-of-racist-facebook-posts/?amp_js_v=0.1&usqp=mq331AQICAEoATgAWAE%3D#origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&prerenderSize=1&visibilityState=prerender&paddingTop=54&p2r=0&horizontalScrolling=0&csi=1&aoh=15369316242362&viewerUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Famp%2Fs%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Famphtml%2Fnews%2Feducation%2Fwp%2F2018%2F08%2F18%2Fyou-are-animals-disgust-me-a-school-board-candidates-history-of-racist-facebook-posts%2F&history=1&storage=1&cid=1&cap=swipe%2CnavigateTo%2Ccid%2Cfragment%2CreplaceUrl

Cleve Wootson is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. He was previously a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.