How Has White Nationalism Changed in the Year Since Charlottesville? - Pacific Standard

How Has White Nationalism Changed in the Year Since Charlottesville?

In the months since the first Unite the Right rally, white supremacist and anti-Semitic incidents have only grown.
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The Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

White nationalists clash with counter-protesters on August 12th, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One year after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to three deaths, white nationalists are planning to protest once more, this time on Sunday in Washington, D.C. But what—if anything—has changed since last year?

The Charlottesville rally sparked a backlash in the weeks that followed, prompting websites to deny white supremacists their platform. James Alex Fields, who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, has been indicted on federal hate crime charges, while many of his tiki-torch-bearing allies were doxxed online.

Still, these efforts have done little to curtail rhetoric from alt-right, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization that tracks hate crimes. In the months since August 12th, 2017, the ADL found that white supremacist and anti-Semitic incidents have increased dramatically. "While post-Charlottesville setbacks have prompted some right-watchers prematurely to proclaim the demise of the alt right, its adherents have not yet lost their hateful energy and enthusiasm," the ADL wrote in a report.

Here are some key statistics on white nationalism since last year's rally:

  • Since Charlottesville, the ADL has tracked 54 public events or demonstrations by white supremacists.
  • White supremacists propaganda is also on the rise. In 2018 so far, the ADL has recorded more than 900 white supremacist propaganda incidents, more than in all of 2017. This includes the distribution or posting of white supremacist fliers and literature.
  • White supremacists have increasingly targeted schools and college campuses with propaganda. These incidents rose by 77 percent during the 2017–18 academic year—that's 292 cases, compared to a previous 165, according to ADL data.
  • The ADL found anti-Semitic incidents increased nearly 60 percent in 2017, the largest single-year increase on record. Most of these incidents took place in schools and on college campuses.
  • In 2017 and 2018 combined, there have already been 3,000 extremist or anti-Semitic incidents, including physical assaults, bomb threats, and vandalism of Jewish institutions, ABC News reports based on recent ADL findings.
  • The alt-right has also changed tactics since the first rally in response to attacks on their preferred Web platforms. They've embraced podcasts as a way to reach more followers and increased efforts on college campuses, where they can spread propaganda anonymously.

With hate crimes on the rise, D.C. is on high alert as Sunday's protest approaches. Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters that the city has banned guns at the rally and protesters will be separated in an attempt to minimize violence, according to USA Today.

Still, experts do not expect as large a turnout this year, due in part to divisions within the white supremacist movement; white nationalist Jason Kessler, who also organized last year's rally, has alienated prominent white supremacist leaders such as Richard Spencer, who publicly disowned the rally's reunion.

About 400 people are expected to attend, according to Kessler's permit application, not including counter-protesters. The ADL predicts a large presence from antifa groups, which have also been responsible for violent confrontations with far-right groups this year.

Many will also be eagerly awaiting the political response to the rally, following President Donald Trump's statement last year placing the blame for Charlottesville violence "on both sides."

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