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March 18, 2021

Pennsylvania, New Jersey among states with most white supremacist activity in 2020, ADL finds

The organization, which tracks hate-group activity, says the distribution of propaganda hit an all-time high last year

Reports to the Anti-Defamation League about the distribution of white supremacist propaganda hit an all-time high last year, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey were among the states with the most instances.

An ADL report released Wednesday stated that 5,125 cases of hate propaganda being distributed were reported nationwide during 2020 – more than double the number of cases in 2019. 

There were 323 instances of hate propaganda in New Jersey, the fourth most of any state, and 238 instances in Pennsylvania, the eighth most. 

Compared to the ADL's 2019 report, New Jersey's cases more than doubled and Pennsylvania's cases more than tripled.

"Hate propaganda is a tried-and-true tactic for white supremacists, and this on the ground activity is now higher than we’ve ever previously recorded," ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt, said.

The ADL received reports of white supremacist propaganda being distributed in every state except Hawaii. Below are the eight states the organization says had the most instances and how many cases were reported there:

• Texas (574)
• Washington (345)
• California (333)
New Jersey (323)
• New York (308)
• Massachusetts (276)
• Virginia (249)
Pennsylvania (238)

White supremacist propaganda was defined by the ADL as racist, antisemitic or anti-LGBTQ posters and other physical media distributed by hate groups, including white supremacist groups. It can be difficult to recognize these racist missives, since they often intermingle patriotic rhetoric to disguise their true messages. 

In other cases, the message of hate is explicit and the racist literature will direct people to a group's online planforms in order to grow its membership.

Across the U.S., there was an average of 14 such reports per day in 2020. There was also a 68% increase – amounting to a total of 238 cases – in propaganda specifically targeting Jewish people.

"White supremacists appear to be more emboldened than ever, and the election year, the pandemic and other factors may have provided these extremists with additional encouragement," said Greenblatt. 

Around 30 different hate organizations were responsible the propaganda which made its way into 49 states, according to the ADL. However, just three groups were responsible for 92 % of cases: the New Jersey European Heritage Association — a group that has been highly active since at least 2019 – the Texas-based group Patriot Front and the Nationalist Social Club. 

Patriot Front alone was responsible for 80% of the propaganda. Around 4,100 cases were linked to the hate group. 

The ADL describes itself as an "anti-hate organization" that is dedicated to exposing anti-semitism and bigotry. It was founded in 1913 with the goal of stopping the defamation of Jewish people. Today the organization us combatting all forms of hate and it regularly releases extremism and discrimination reports. 

The group says it has been monitoring far-right activity for more than 10 years, according to the New York Post. In 2016, the ADL began publishing its H.E.A.T (Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism) Map, which they've used to track hate-inspired incidents from 2002 to now. 

The organization's 2019 report found that New Jersey also ranked highly among the states with the most instances of white supremacist activity. The ADL also said in 2019, the New Jersey European Heritage Association and Patriot Front, were responsible for most of the activity in the state. 

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