White Supremacist Propaganda Incidents Increased An Astonishing 182 Percent Last Year

People attend the 'We the People' rally as police keep a group of counter-protesters separated on Independence Mall on November 17, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

A new study by the Anti-Defamation League reveals that white supremacists have increased their propaganda distribution by 182 percent in 2018. Incidents, including canvassing college campuses and neighborhoods, have gone up across the country from to 421 distributions in 2017 to 1,187 incidents in 2018.

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director, issued a statement on the ADL website, calling hate groups newly invigorated to continue spreading their hateful message.

`”Posting fliers is a tried-and-true tactic for hate groups, one that enables them to spread hateful ideas and sow fear across an entire community,” said Greenblatt. “Hate groups were emboldened in 2018, but their increasing reliance on hate leafleting indicates that most of their members understand this is a fringe activity and are unwilling to risk greater public exposure or arrest.”

The propaganda incidents included things like explicitly racist language and images, along with a call to recruit people to their cause. Some of the flyers were placed in plastic bags with candy or rocks to keep it in place. The messaging targets Jews, African-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ individuals.

Alt-right groups like Patriot Front, Identity Evropa, and Daily Stormer followers made up a majority of the on-campus incidents, totaling 868 events last year, up from 129 in 2017. There were 319 on-campus events on 212 campuses in 37 states and Washington D.C., largely led by Identity Evropa and Patriot Front.

Carla Hill, a senior researcher with the Center on Extremism, says that many groups canvas college campuses in order to influence what they see as a liberal stronghold, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“They are trying to change the conversation on campus,” Hill said. “They view campuses as liberal bastions, and they want to change that and put in their perspective on these campuses and what they think will influence the campus.”

The Ku Klux Klan also increased its outreach, with 97 incidents where Klan members distributed information in neighborhoods, up 20 percent from the previous four years.

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California, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Virginia received the most incidents, and a majority of them were targeted in major cities, but smaller towns didn’t escape the propaganda onslaught.

Fliers weren’t the only method of spreading their message. White supremacy groups also used banners hung in visible locations like highways. There were 32 banners hung last year, with 21 of them coming from Patriot Front.

There were also over 30 flash demonstrations last year held by Identity Evropa and Patriot Front.

Patriot Front has been one of the major contributors to the increase in incidents. The group is based in Texas and led by Thomas Rousseau.