White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, US, August 12, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
NEW YORK – Murders committed by white supremacist groups in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, a report published by the ADL shows.
The Anti-Defamation League said the killings far surpassed those committed by domestic Islamic extremists, and noted that 2017 was fifth-deadliest year for US extremist violence since 1970.
The report, called “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017” and published on Wednesday by the ADL’s Center on Extremism, found that ‘white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59% of all extremist-related fatalities in the US in 2017, up dramatically from 20% in 2016.”
Nine deaths were linked to Islamic extremists in the ADL’s annual assessment of extremist- related killings.
The most recent ADL figures show that over the last 10 years, 71% of all the fatalities have been linked to domestic right-wing extremists, while 26% were slain by Islamic extremists.
“These findings are a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO.
“We saw two car-ramming attacks in the US last year – one from an Islamic terrorist and another from a white supremacist in Charlottesville [in Virginia] – and the number of deaths attributed to white supremacists increased substantially. The bottom line is we cannot ignore one form of extremism over another. We must tackle them all,” he said.
Key findings revealed in the ADL’s annual report found that of the 18 homicides committed by white supremacist, several included killings linked to the “alt right as that movement expanded its operations in 2017 from the Internet into the physical world – raising the likely possibility of more such violent acts in the future.”
Unlike in 2016, a majority of the 2017 murders were committed by right-wing extremists, primarily white supremacists, as has typically been the case most years.
2016 saw a major spike in slayings motivated by Islamic extremism, punctuated by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, that claimed the lives of 49 people.
An Islamic extremist still committed the single deadliest incident in 2017, with a car-ramming attack in New York City that killed eight people in late October.
“When white supremacists and other extremists are emboldened and find new audiences for their hate-filled views, violence is usually not far behind,” Greenblatt said.
“We cannot ignore the fact that white supremacists are emboldened, and as a society we need to keep a close watch on recruitment and rallies such as [that in] Charlottesville, which have the greatest potential to provoke and inspire violence.”
The report also cited a spate of killings in 2017 by black nationalists as a possible emerging extremist threat. Black nationalists were responsible for five murders in 2017, and this came on the heels of other violent incidents with black nationalist connections in 2016 and 2014.
The ADL provided recommendations to prevent homicides committed by extremist groups in the US, which incorporate a holistic approach to the issue.
“All civic leaders, from the president to mayors and police chiefs, must use their bully pulpit to speak out against racism, antisemitism and all forms of bigotry at every opportunity,” the ADL said.
“In addition, federal and state officials should support properly crafted programs to counter all forms of violent extremism, including that stemming from both international terrorist organizations and domestic extremist movements, or to facilitate people interested in leaving extremist movements.
“This includes programs to thwart recruitment of disaffected or alienated Americans. And all law enforcement agencies should comprehensively collect and report hate crimes data to the FBI,” the ADL said.