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June 9, 2016 Off

LA Times Editorial Board Criticizes EU Hate Speech Code of Conduct for Online Platforms

In response to a Code of Con­duct adopted at the request of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion by online com­pa­nies Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube and Microsoft, the Los Ange­les Times Edi­to­r­ial Board called the Code “a well-meaning but heavy-handed move against jihadist pro­pa­ganda.”  The Edi­to­r­ial explained:

The code of con­duct was pre­sented as a set of vol­un­tary com­mit­ments closely track­ing what the four com­pa­nies say they’ve been doing on their own ini­tia­tives. But it’s not as if they could have blithely refused to coop­er­ate. Under Euro­pean law, cer­tain types of hate speech are ille­gal and must be removed on request. The com­mis­sion also is a highly active reg­u­la­tor  — much more so than U.S. author­i­ties are — hav­ing launched antitrust, tax and pri­vacy enforce­ment actions against some or all of the four com­pa­nies. In other words, they would have ignored the com­mis­sion at their peril.

The LA Times Edi­to­r­ial Board item­ized its con­cerns this way:

  • “The Commission’s move could lead the com­pa­nies to cen­sor legal speech as well. Rather than leav­ing com­pa­nies to set their own terms of use, the code of con­duct man­dates that such rules “pro­hibit the pro­mo­tion of incite­ment to vio­lence and hate­ful con­duct,” which is a vaguer and broader cat­e­gory than what Euro­pean gov­ern­ments have outlawed.”
  • “It would fast-track the removal of con­tent flagged by advo­cacy groups and other non-governmental orga­ni­za­tions blessed by Euro­pean offi­cials, leav­ing those whose posts are blocked online with no due-process rights (the com­pa­nies say they have inter­nal appeals processes, but that’s a far cry from the court-supervised process under U.S. copy­right law).”
  • “The code could set a prece­dent for other coun­tries to force Inter­net com­pa­nies to restrain speech more than their laws dic­tate or global prin­ci­ples of human rights sup­port. For exam­ple, what if a repres­sive regime demands that social net­works adopt rules ban­ning “incite­ment to insta­bil­ity” or other code words for dissent?”
  • “But just as the United States has strug­gled to find the right bal­ance between secu­rity and civil lib­er­ties, so too must the com­mis­sion be care­ful not to squelch legal speech. The new code of con­duct may be well-meaning, but it would have been bet­ter to have a truly vol­un­tary effort by social net­works backed by real due-process protections.”

While Jonathan A. Green­blatt, ADL CEO has stated that the Code par­al­lels ADL’s Best Prac­tices for Respond­ing to Cyber­hate, and that empow­er­ing users to bet­ter report hate speech is the rea­son why ADL has brought it Cyber-Safety Action Guide to Europe, ADL acknowl­edges the con­cerns expressed by civil soci­ety and the Los Ange­les Times, and con­tin­ues to believe that vol­un­tary efforts to com­bat online hate speech is prefer­able to government-imposed require­ments.  ADL has com­mit­ted to work with the Euro­pean Jew­ish Con­gress and Euro­pean Union of Jew­ish Stu­dents to expand ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide for use by Euro­pean cit­i­zens in the wake of the EU Code announcement.

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March 2, 2016 1

While Vying For Attention, Small California Klan Encounters Conflict

The Loyal White Knights (LWK) had every inten­tion of hold­ing a “White Lives Do Mat­ter” protest on Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 27, 2016, at Pear­son Park in Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia. But before the event could kick off, a bloody brawl erupted between Klan sup­port­ers and counter-protesters.

Klans­men, barely able to exit their cars, were sud­denly swarmed by counter-protesters who wres­tled Bill Hagan, the Cal­i­for­nia LWK’s Grand Dragon, to the ground. Other Klan mem­bers were sim­i­larly attacked, and as the chaos con­tin­ued, Klan mem­bers stabbed three counter-protesters, appar­ently with the tip of a flag pole, leav­ing one crit­i­cally wounded.

Six Klans­men were arrested, but they were released on Feb­ru­ary 29, after law enforce­ment deter­mined they were act­ing in self-defense. Seven anti-Klan-protesters were booked by the Ana­heim Police Depart­ment on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and for elder abuse (after stomp­ing on a senior Klan member).

(At any poten­tially inflam­ma­tory protest, sep­a­rat­ing the pro­test­ers from any counter-demonstrators is crit­i­cal – it pro­tects even the most hate­ful speech while ensur­ing the safety of every­one involved. This sep­a­ra­tion was clearly not achieved – or main­tained – in Anaheim).

Like other Klan groups around the coun­try, the Loyal White Knights say they rep­re­sent the increas­ingly “endan­gered” white pop­u­la­tion, which they claim makes up a mere 9 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. In fact, Klan groups them­selves appear to be the only “endan­gered” entity: The ADL has iden­ti­fied about thirty active Klan groups in the United States, slightly down from the 2014 tally. Most Klan groups range in size from small to very small; chap­ters are often com­prised of a sin­gle local member.

As a feint against their dimin­ish­ing influ­ence, Klan groups con­tinue to use attention-getting stunts to attract pub­lic­ity.  For exam­ple, in 2015 the Inter­na­tional Key­stone Knights made head­lines for appeal­ing an “adopt a high­way” court rul­ing in Geor­gia while the Knights Party drew media atten­tion after spon­sor­ing a pro-white bill­board in Arkansas.

The most com­mon Klan tac­tic, how­ever, con­tin­ues to be the use of fliers to broad­cast their racist, anti-Semitic, homo­pho­bic, and increas­ingly Islam­o­pho­bic mes­sage. In 2015, the ADL counted 85 Klan flier­ing inci­dents, an increase from 73 inci­dents in 2014.  In the last six months, the very small Cal­i­for­nia Loyal White Knights group has caused an out­sized stir in a num­ber of Cal­i­for­nia cities, includ­ing Whit­tier, Santa Ana and Ana­heim, as neigh­bors dis­cov­ered candy and rock-filled bags with pro-Klan mes­sages on their front lawns. As the Anti-Defamation League has pre­vi­ously noted, this leaflet­ing activ­ity is actu­ally a des­per­ate pub­lic­ity tac­tic, and reflects Klan groups’ declin­ing stature and membership.

Today’s Klan groups tend to be irres­olute, short-lived and in a con­stant state of flux.More than half of the cur­rently active Klans were formed just in the last five years. While a few long­stand­ing Klans, still exist, they are mere shad­ows of their for­mer selves. In fact, two promi­nent Klans dis­banded in Late 2015: Mor­ris Gulett’s Louisiana-based Aryan Nations Knights and Ron Edward’s Kentucky-based Impe­r­ial Klans of America.

As befits the groups’ shrink­ing ranks, pub­lic Klan events are increas­ingly rare. There were only two pub­lic Klan events of con­se­quence in 2015.  In July, mem­bers of the Loyal White Knights and the Trin­ity White Knights joined mem­bers of the neo-Nazi Nation­al­ist Social­ist Move­ment in protest­ing the removal of the Con­fed­er­ate flag from the South Car­olina State House.  In March, approx­i­mately 20 Klans­men ral­lied in Mont­gomery, Alabama, at an event hon­or­ing Mar­tin Luther King, Jr.

In the 1920s, accord­ing to some his­tor­i­cal accounts, Anaheim’s Pear­son Park was the site of events that attracted upwards of 20,000 Klan sup­port­ers. This past weekend’s protests and vio­lence involved six Klan sup­port­ers — and while that cer­tainly epit­o­mizes the state of today’s Klan, the group’s his­tor­i­cal bag­gage and unde­ni­able noto­ri­ety means that even one Klan mem­ber has the poten­tial to spark con­sid­er­able pain and upset.

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January 8, 2016 Off

No Sign of Slowdown for Islamic Extremism Arrests in the U.S. in 2016

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Janab, arrested January 6

Aws Mohammed You­nis Al-Janab, arrested Jan­u­ary 6

Two U.S. res­i­dents were arrested on Islamic extrem­ism related ter­ror charges in the first week of 2016 and a third allegedly com­mit­ted a shoot­ing on Jan­u­ary 7 on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Fol­low­ing record-breaking num­bers of ter­ror related arrests in 2015, these new arrests por­tend sim­i­larly high lev­els of Amer­i­cans engag­ing in plots and other activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy in the com­ing year.

Aws Mohammed You­nis Al-Janab, a res­i­dent of Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, was arrested on Jan­u­ary 6, 2015. Al-Janab, an Iraqi-born man who had moved to Syria and then come to the U.S. as a refugee from Syria in 2012, is accused of mak­ing false state­ments in a terror-related inves­ti­ga­tion. Al-Janab had orig­i­nally left the U.S. to fight with Ansar al-Islam, a Syr­ian ter­ror­ist group, between 2013 and 2014. Ansar al-Islam had been affil­i­ated with Al Qaeda until August 2014, at which time it merged with ISIS.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a res­i­dent of Hous­ton, Texas, was also arrested on Jan­u­ary 6, 2015. Al Hardan, who entered the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2009 and is cur­rently a U.S. per­ma­nent res­i­dent, is charged with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by attempt­ing to join the ISIS and with lying in his nat­u­ral­iza­tion application.

A third man, iden­ti­fied as Edward Archer of Penn­syl­va­nia, allegedly attempted to kill a law enforce­ment offi­cer in Philadel­phia on behalf of ISIS. There were at least four instances of Islamic extrem­ism inspired vio­lence against law enforce­ment offi­cers in 2015.

The two indi­vid­u­als arrested were Iraqi born men of Pales­tin­ian descent who entered the U.S. as refugees. They report­edly com­mu­ni­cated with each other regard­ing their extrem­ist aspirations.

The vast major­ity of U.S. res­i­dents engaged in ter­ror­ism related to Islamic extrem­ism are U.S. cit­i­zens.  Between 2009 and 2015, refugees accounted for only three per­cent of the U.S. res­i­dents linked to Islamic extremism.

In 2015, only 3 U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism had entered the U.S. as refugees. One of the three, Harlem Suarez, entered the U.S. as a refugee when he was a child but appears to have con­verted to Islam and rad­i­cal­ized while in the U.S.; Suarez was a U.S. per­ma­nent res­i­dent when he was arrested for attempt­ing to bomb a Florida beach in sup­port of ISIS.

2015 also saw a spike in attempted domes­tic attacks. There were 18 plots dis­cussed in total in 2015, com­pared to 1 in all of 2014.

78 U.S. res­i­dents in total were linked to ter­ror­ist activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015. A full list of the indi­vid­u­als, as well as exten­sive analy­sis, is avail­able in the ADL report, “2015 Sees Dra­matic Spike in Islamic Extrem­ism Arrests.”

In Octo­ber 2015, FBI Direc­tor James Comey indi­cated that there were 900 open inves­ti­ga­tions of sus­pected home­grown extrem­ists, the major­ity of which are related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since that time, there have been 12 U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror, at least three of whom (San Bernardino shoot­ers Tafsheen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farooq and Farooq’s friend, Enrique Mar­quez) had not been mon­i­tored by law enforce­ment prior to the San Bernardino attack in Decem­ber 2015.

 

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