Murders by White Supremacists More Than Doubled in 2017, Study Says
According to a report released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, the number of murders committed by white supremacists in 2017 more than doubled from 2016.
The center counted a total of 34 people killed by domestic extremists, of which 18 were killed by white supremacists, more than double the number from the previous year. In the past decade, right-wing extremism made up 71 percent of extremist-related murders, compared with 26 percent of murders by Islamic extremists.
The overall number of deaths attributed to domestic extremists has declined—from 71 people in 2016 and 69 in 2015. The report attributes the fall to a drop in extremist-related mass-shooting sprees, like the one Omar Mateen carried out when he killed 49 people at the Orlando, Florida, Pulse nightclub in 2016.
Despite a claim by President Trump in a Feb. 28 address to Congress that “[a]ccording to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country,” a study by the Government Accountability Office found that “[o]f the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since Sept. 12, 2001, 73 percent (62) were committed by far-right-wing violent extremist groups, and 27 percent (23) by radical Islamist violent extremists”—data similar to that found by the ADL.
The Washington Post continues:
Federal law enforcement agencies warned in May 2017 that white supremacist groups were “responsible for a lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups,” according to a bulletin prepared by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by Foreign Policy. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” the document shows. …
Yet for [Trump’s] speech to Congress in February, the White House relied on the June 2016 research from [Jeff] Sessions’s former Senate office, not the current Department of Justice under Attorney General Sessions, Politifact found. Unless the Department of Justice, now led by Sessions, provided some other data to the White House, Trump’s claim is not supported by facts.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s chief executive, told The Washington Post the data are “a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security. We saw two car-ramming attacks in the U.S. last year—one from an Islamic terrorist and another from a white supremacist in Charlottesville—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.”
Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar recently interviewed former white supremacist Christian Picciolini at an activist pop-up show in Los Angeles called Into Action. Picciolini joined a neo-Nazi group at age 14 in Chicago, where he grew up. Of the group, he said, “it’s very similar to what we would call ‘white nationalism’ today, although I defer using that term because that’s a term that they came up with to make themselves seem less hateful.”
Picciolini said he finds the recent boldness of white supremacist groups “frankly terrifying,” adding that “so many things that are coming out of the administration, and policies, and even language, are things that we said 30 years ago.”