Hate Groups Look to Extend Reach But Didn't Organize Recent Protests: Experts

There is no evidence that extremists are playing an organizing role in the protests, experts said

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Hate groups in America are looking to the internet to try and increase membership, according to one group that monitors them.  

The Anti-Defamation League says it has seen an uptick in online hate fueled by the killing of George Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic.

“We're seeing an increase in hate online that's playing out,” says David Goldenberg, Midwest Regional Director of the ADL. “Extremists prey on these moments. They look for these moments for recruitment purposes,” he says. “And that is absolutely what we are seeing.”

Still as demonstrators filled the streets of Chicago and other cities across the country following the killing of George Floyd, Goldenberg says there is absolutely no evidence that extremists are playing an organizing role in the protests.

And that includes the group Antifa, as has been suggested by President Trump.

“It's not extremists that are driving people to the streets, and we shouldn't frankly, give them that much credit. There's a lot of issues that are facing our communities, our cities, our societies, racial injustices that have existed for generations and need to change,” he said, noting that ADL members marched in the protests.

Still, he says, hate groups are attempting to use the two emotionally charged events to their advantage.

One only has to look at the website of Chicago-based Euro Folk Radio to understand. The group, which calls itself a voice for European People, is listed as one of 26 hate groups in Illinois by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Anti-Jewish in scope, the group’s website features articles on the death of Floyd, as well as the Coronavirus, one article labeling the pandemic a “Prescription for Global Tyranny.”  An attempt to reach someone from Euro Folk Radio was unsuccessful.

Hate groups have changed dramatically over the decades. The cross burnings of the Ku Klux Klan have by and large given way to cyber hate.

The Anti-Defamation League, which claims the largest database of hate symbols, added more than 30 new examples just last year.

A 2019 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center cites four years of growth in such groups, though there is evidence, cited by the ADL, that they remain largely disorganized.

“Long gone are those days where you have to find a meeting in the darkness of the night to find somebody,” Goldenberg says. “You can just pick up your smart phone and you can find people and that’s really dangerous.”

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