Mar 15, 2023 - News

White supremacist propaganda hits record levels

Members of the Proud Boys held various rallies and counterprotests throughout the country in 2022. Photo: Mathieu Lewis-Rolland / AFP

The number of documented white supremacist incidents reached an all-time high in 2022, according to a report published last week by the Anti-Defamation League.

Why it matters: Ohio ranked third among all states for documented white supremacist events and gatherings.

The big picture: The ADL's Center on Extremism identified 6,751 cases where white supremacist groups distributed "racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+" materials across the country in 2022, a 38% increase from 2021.

  • The ADL also documented 167 white supremacist events and gatherings during the year, a 55% increase from the 108 recorded in 2021.

Context: White supremacist propaganda has been rising nationwide for several years.

Zoom in: Ohio saw 185 incidents related to white supremacist groups in 2022, up from 135 in 2021, per the ADL.

  • Incidents ranged from propaganda distribution and rallies to terrorist plots.
  • More than 20 documented incidents took place in Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs, with more than half classified as "antisemitic incidents."

The details: The Patriot Front — a Texas-based group whose manifesto calls for the formation of a white ethnostate — distributed flyers, hung banners and graffitied its logo throughout Ohio.

  • In December, Proud Boys members showed up in Columbus wearing camouflage and carrying guns to protest a planned (and eventually canceled) "Holi-Drag Storytime" event featuring local drag performers reading to children.
  • Multiple incidents in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo were attributed to White Lives Matter, including a rally held outside the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood in August.

Of note: The National Justice Party — an organization whose website advocates for "white civil rights" — held its national gathering in Vienna, Ohio, in September.

  • The event, which attracted 350-400 people, was one of the best attended extremist events of the year, according to the ADL.

What they're saying: Kelly Fishman, education director for ADL Cleveland, tells Axios that social media has been a double-edged sword.

  • "With social media, it's easier for people to report these incidents so we can document them," Fishman says. "But it also allows for individuals to easily spread hate on a broader scale."

The bottom line: "It's incumbent that elected officials and community leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, condemn these incidents," Fishman adds. "When these incidents aren't condemned, it can lead to violence."


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