May 23, 2024 - News

White supremacist propaganda surges nationally, in Ohio

A white supremacist group marches in the street with masks on.

The Patriot Front marches in Chardon, Ohio, in 2023. Photo: Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The distribution of white supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached a record high for the second consecutive year in 2023.

Why it matters: Ohio ranked second (behind Texas) among all states for such incidents, which included the distribution of racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ materials, according to the Anti-Defamation League's annual report.

Driving the news: Last week, residents in Cleveland's predominantly Black Hough neighborhood discovered flyers with racist images and contact information for the Ku Klux Klan.

  • Similar flyers were spotted in other Northeast Ohio communities, including Akron.

By the numbers: The ADL recorded 7,567 white supremacist propaganda incidents nationwide in 2023, up from 6,746 in 2022. It's the highest number of annual incidents since the ADL began tracking in 2017.

  • The 2023 figures included a 30% increase in antisemitic incidents and a 141% increase in anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda.

Zoom in: Ohio saw 509 documented incidents in 2023, up from 211 in 2022.

  • More than 40 of them occurred in Northeast Ohio, including 24 in Cleveland.
  • Over 100 of those last year took place in Central Ohio.
  • Many incidents were associated with white supremacist groups like the Patriot Front and National Justice Party, which distributed propaganda in Chardon, Willoughby, Mayfield Heights, Cuyahoga Falls, Broadview Heights and other communities, according to the ADL.
  • Patriot Front also organized a Columbus march of around 80 participants, per ADL.

Threat level: 237 of the incidents documented in Ohio were antisemitic, with most occurring after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began last October.

  • More than 40 bomb threats were made at synagogues, and over 30 of what the ADL considers anti-Israel rallies occurred in the state.
  • Ohio saw two documented terrorist incidents last year, including an attempted torching of a Chesterland church that planned to host a drag-related reading hour in March and a racially motivated shooting at a Walmart in Beavercreek in November.

The latest: So far, the ADL has documented just 18 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2024.

  • Yes, but: Kelly Fishman, education director for ADL Cleveland, says those numbers don't take into account data yet to be collected from the FBI, Jewish Federation and other groups later this year.

What they're saying: "It's really important to be looking at these numbers because it's an indication of the impact it can have on all our communities," Fishman says.

  • "You do not have to be Jewish to be impacted by a rise in antisemitism. It's a rise in hate, and that impacts everyone in the community."
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