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April 20, 2016 15

White Supremacists Up in Arms over Tubman on $20 Bill

Harriet Tubman. Photo Credit: Ohio History Connection (OHC) via U.S. Treasury Department, dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.

Har­riet Tub­man. Photo Credit: Ohio His­tory Con­nec­tion (OHC) via U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment, dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Stu­dio Build­ing, Boston.

On April 20, the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment announced that famous abo­li­tion­ist and res­cuer of slaves Har­riet Tub­man will be the new face of the $20 bill, replac­ing Andrew Jack­son (who moves to the bill’s back). The move is intended to answer a long-standing call for more diver­sity on America’s paper cur­rency. Tub­man, a for­mer slave her­self, helped hun­dreds of other slaves escape into freedom.

Ini­tial reac­tions were largely positive—but not among racists and white suprema­cists, who wasted no time react­ing to the news with ferocious–and unsurprising–venom. “Talk­ing mon­key Har­riet Tub­man to replace Indian killer Jack­son on $20 bill,” Andrew Anglin, edi­tor and founder of the white suprema­cist Daily Stormer web­site, announced on his blog.  A forum mem­ber on the white suprema­cist mes­sage board Storm­front warned, “Just make very sure you don’t ‘inte­grate’ this new $20 bill into your wal­let. You’ll likely find the rest of your money miss­ing in no time.”

Other Storm­front con­trib­u­tors posited the idea of “hav­ing fun” with the new bill by defac­ing it. One sug­gested he would make a stamp with a “white nation­al­ist cross” and the words “White Pride World Wide” to embla­zon on every $20 bill he encoun­ters. Yet another pledged never to use the new $20 bill, to demand to be given other bills instead.

On Face­book, racist com­ments also sur­faced quickly. Some­one post­ing as “Pete Lam­bro” wrote, “Who the hell is har­riet tub­man [sic]…if Obama want to put an african amer­i­cans [sic] Pic­ture [sic] on some­thing how about food stamps or ebt cards.”  In another Face­book post­ing,  a “Nick Fran­cis” com­plained that “now we have to stare at a mon­key every time we get paid.”

Oth­ers were quick to intro­duce anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries, alleg­ing that the Trea­sury Depart­ment announce­ment was the brain­child of the Jews.  One anti-Semite posted to his Face­book page the com­ment “More Zion­ist Jack Jew,” refer­ring to Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Jack Lew.  A Storm­front poster using the screen­name Proud_White_Chap asked, “Who cares who Jews put on their fake paper? Andrew Jack­son fought against them and they besmirched his mem­ory by plac­ing him on the 20 dol­lar bill.” This seems to be a ref­er­ence to the anti-Semitic belief that Jews con­trol the bank­ing sys­tem and to the fact that Jack­son dis­man­tled the U.S.’s national bank.

A Trea­sury spokesper­son said the design for the new bills will be made pub­lic in 2020, the cen­ten­nial of women win­ning the right to vote. The actual cur­rency, how­ever, won’t be in cir­cu­la­tion until 2030, giv­ing white suprema­cists plenty of time to gnash their teeth and accu­mu­late other denominations.

White suprema­cists will prob­a­bly be no hap­pier with the new $5 and $10 bills, how­ever, which are to fea­ture five women’s suf­frage activists, Eleanor Roo­sevelt, and African-Americans Mar­ian Ander­son and Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., on the reverse sides.

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April 13, 2016 3

Firearms Increasingly Weapon of Choice in Extremist-Related Killings

extremistkillingswithfirearms1970-2015In the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, the bomb is the weapon typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ists or extremists—but in the U.S. extrem­ists seem to be killing more peo­ple with firearms than with any other weapon, and that use may be increasing.

It is cer­tainly true that many of the high-profile ter­ror­ist attacks in the United States over the past cen­tury have been bomb­ings, includ­ing the 1919 anar­chist bomb­ing cam­paign, the 1963 16th Street Bap­tist Church bomb­ing, the 1995 bomb­ing of the Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing in Okla­homa City, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb­ing, among many oth­ers. Extrem­ist ser­ial bombers such as the Weather Under­ground, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczyn­ski, and Eric Rudolph have all got­ten their share of headlines.

How­ever, extrem­ists use a wide vari­ety of deadly imple­ments to com­mit their crimes, terrorist-related or oth­er­wise, from fists and boots to air­planes. The most com­mon tool of vio­lence seems to be the sim­ple firearm, a weapon that extrem­ists can use when com­mit­ting ter­ror­ist acts, hate crimes, assas­si­na­tions, armed rob­beries, and all man­ner of tra­di­tional crime. In the United States, firearms are easy to obtain and easy to use. Amer­i­can extrem­ists of all pos­si­ble types, from the far left to the far right, as well as reli­gious extrem­ists, have used firearms to com­mit deadly acts.

How com­mon is such firearms use in the United States? The Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism exam­ined 890 mur­ders com­mit­ted by domes­tic extrem­ists in the United States from 1970 through 2015—both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological killings by extrem­ist perpetrators—and dis­cov­ered that around 55% of these killings involved use of a firearm; all other weapons com­bined made up the other 45%.

This fig­ure sig­ni­fies both the pop­u­lar­ity of firearms among extrem­ist move­ments in the United States, espe­cially right-wing extrem­ists, as well as the fact that attacks with other types of weapons may be less likely to end in death. Attacks using knives or fists, for exam­ple, may pos­si­bly result in non-fatal injuries more often than firearms. On the other end of the scale, bomb­ings are more dif­fi­cult to carry out—with many extrem­ist bomb­ing plots detected and pre­vented by law enforce­ment from ever being executed.

When one breaks down the num­bers by decade, it appears that, after a dip in the 1980s and 1990s, firearms are becom­ing more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. Not only have the num­bers of domestic-extremist related killings in the U.S. increased over the past 20 years, but so too has the fre­quency of firearms as the weapons in such killings.

In the 1970s, extremists—primarily com­ing from the far left—used firearms in 61% of domes­tic extremist-related killings in the United States. Many of these inci­dents involved mem­bers of left-wing extrem­ist groups such as the Black Pan­thers and the Black Lib­er­a­tion Army attack­ing police officers.

The per­cent­age of firearms use in extremist-related killings dipped in the 1980s, to only 46%, then dropped dras­ti­cally in the 1990s, down to 20%. This lat­ter fig­ure is greatly dis­torted by the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, which itself resulted in 168 deaths, but even if the bomb­ing were left out of the cal­cu­la­tions, the new num­ber would only be 42%. There are sev­eral rea­sons that seem to account for these lower fig­ures, includ­ing the rise of white suprema­cist prison gangs com­mit­ting mur­ders behind bars and the growth of the racist skin­head sub­cul­ture in the United States, whose adher­ents often eschewed firearms for beat­ing and stab­bing attacks.

How­ever, in the 2000s, firearms once more were the deadly weapons in the major­ity of killings, with 62% of the killings between 2001 and 2010 involv­ing one or more firearms. So far in the cur­rent decade, the per­cent­ages are even higher, with 72% of the domestic-extremist related deaths from 2011 through 2015 involv­ing firearms.

What accounts for this increase? Sev­eral fac­tors seem to have played a role. One is the increased use of firearms by sev­eral extrem­ist move­ments. Racist skin­heads seem to use firearms with greater fre­quency in the 2000s than they did in ear­lier decades, while the growth of white suprema­cist prison gang activ­ity on the streets—as opposed to behind bars—has allowed their mem­bers much greater access to and use of firearms.

Even more con­cern­ing is the appar­ent grav­i­ta­tion of domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists towards firearms as a weapon of choice. In the early years of this move­ment, fol­low­ing the 2003 U.S. inva­sion of Iraq, much of the energy of those extrem­ists with vio­lent impulses were directed at elab­o­rate plots involv­ing bombs or even mil­i­tary weapons—plots typ­i­cally stopped by law enforce­ment before they could ever be car­ried out.

Since 2009, how­ever, there have been a num­ber of high-profile inci­dents in which Islamic extrem­ists have used firearms to con­duct shoot­ings (and one instance, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, where the per­pe­tra­tors used both bombs and firearms), includ­ing shoot­ings at Ft. Hood, Texas; Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas; Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee; and San Bernardino, California.

The rise of ISIS in the past sev­eral years may have con­tributed to the increase in attempted small arms attacks; Al Qaeda gen­er­ally favored high-spectacle and sym­bolic attacks, whereas ISIS has been more prac­ti­cal, urg­ing adher­ents to com­mit any attack they think they can pull off.

Most of the Islamic-related shoot­ings were mass shoot­ings, which may be the final piece of the puz­zle. Though most extrem­ist killings con­tinue to take one vic­tim at a time, the num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tims in deadly extremist-related inci­dents (both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological) has cer­tainly grown. Since 2001, there have been 24 domes­tic extrem­ist inci­dents in which at least three peo­ple were killed—and firearms were the weapons used in the vast major­ity of these cases, includ­ing such deadly shoot­ing sprees as the 2012 Wis­con­sin Sikh tem­ple shoot­ing and the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

The increased num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tim inci­dents by extrem­ists is also one of the rea­sons why the death toll has been ris­ing. From extrem­ists on the right such as white suprema­cists and anti-government extrem­ists to reli­gious extrem­ists such as domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, gun vio­lence seems more likely to increase than decrease in the com­ing months and years

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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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