Mar 17, 2023 - News

Utah saw "high activity" of white supremacist propaganda in 2022

Members of the Patriot Front in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The spread of white supremacist propaganda reached an all-time high in the U.S. last year, up 38% from 2021, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism released earlier this month.

Driving the news: Utah was among the top 10 states with the most activity of propaganda distributed last year, the analysis showed.

  • The Beehive State was also one of a handful of states where the Patriot Front, defined as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was most active, per the report.

The big picture: Three groups — Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League and White Lives Matter — were responsible for nearly 93% of the propaganda spread in the U.S. last year, according to the report.

  • The ADL defines white supremacist propaganda efforts as the physical distribution of racist, antisemitic or anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, signs and graffiti.

Zoom in: In Utah, the ADL recorded 222 white supremacist propaganda incidents, nine antisemitic incidents, and three white supremacist events in 2022.

What they're saying: Richard Medina, associate professor of geography who studies hate groups and terrorism at the University of Utah, told Axios SLC the Mountain West has been a "hotbed" for this type of activity.

  • Yes, but: "When it comes to like, real extremist behavior, and hate crimes, we're pretty minimal," according to Medina, who added the state's religious culture might be a deterrent.

Morgan Moon, an investigative researcher for ADL's Center on Extremism, told Axios the spread of propaganda intends to recruit new members, advertise their presence and intimidate nonwhite and LGBTQ+ groups.

  • "A lot of the time groups like Patriot Front will distribute this propaganda at Jewish institutions, or multicultural centers, or LGBTQ+ community centers…" she said. "That's intended to intimidate those who they perceive to be their enemies."
  • Moon added that often spreading propaganda is the "first step" hate groups take before hosting an event or demonstration.

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