By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
NEW YORK, NY – There has been a “significant increase in extremist activity” in the past two years in California, making it “home to the country’s highest number of extremist-related murders and plots and has seen numerous incidents of political violence,” according to a detailed, 24-page report produced by the Anti-Defamation League.
“Hate in the Golden State: Extremism & Antisemitism in California, 2021-2022” charged the increase has been “driven by a variety of factors, including increased collaboration between small white supremacist and antisemitic networks, as well as continued activity by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Rise Above Movement, particularly as they turned their attention toward the LGBTQ+ community.”
“California has also seen a significant increase in antisemitic incidents over the last two years, becoming the state with the country’s second-highest number of antisemitic incidents at a time when ADL tracked the highest-ever number of antisemitic incidents nationwide,” said ADL, whose report explored a “range of extremist groups and movements operating in California.”
ADL’s report record, in 2021 and 2022, “documented six extremist-related murders in California, as well as one terrorist plot instigated by two men associated with the Three Percenter wing of the militia movement.”
According to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, “California has seen a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years. In 2022, the number of incidents increased 41 percent from 2021 levels, rising from 367 to 518…(including) 20 white supremacist events in California… banner drops, flash demonstrations, training events, fight nights, protests, rallies and meetings.”
The report also noted “296 instances of white supremacist propaganda distributions…a 91 percent increase from 2021 (155). The groups responsible for the majority of incidents were Patriot Front and the Goyim Defense League (GDL).”
The ADL cited FBI hate crime statistics from 2021, where there were “1,765 reported hate crimes incidents in California, an increase of 33 percent from the 1,330 incidents recorded in 2020.”
The report also tied the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol to California residents, showing 61 of the 948 individuals charged were from California, including Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon supporter who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.
ADL and Princeton’s “Bridging Divides Initiative Threats and Harassment Dataset (THD)” disclosed “400 unique incidents of threats and harassment against local U.S. officials between January 1, 2020 and September 23, 2022 in three policy areas (election, education and health).
“California has the highest incidence (64) of threats and harassment against local officials and was one of seven states that recorded more incidents than expected based on population,” the report noted.
ADL’s 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents documented the “highest number of antisemitic incidents since reporting began in 1979, with more than 3,697 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment nationwide, a 36 percent increase from 2021.”
The report added, “With 518, California reported the second-highest number of antisemitic incidents in 2022, following only New York. Instances of vandalism increased by 32 percent (178 incidents in 2022, compared to 135 in 2021), while harassment increased by 51 percent (327 incidents in 2022, compared to 217 in 2021).
“Similarly, trailing only New York, California saw the second-highest number of antisemitic assaults (13) in the nation, a slight decrease from the 15 recorded in 2021 but still a 225 percent increase from the 4 assaults recorded in 2020.”
The ADL report cites more than a dozen examples of antisemitic assaults in California, including,
- In November 2022, a visibly Jewish person in Northridge was allegedly attacked by a group of individuals who punched him in the face, told him to take off his kippah and asked him how he felt about Ye.
- In October 2022, members of the Goyim Defense League (GDL) displayed banners over a highway overpass in Los Angeles that read “Kanye is right about the jews [sic]” and “Honk if you know.”
- In January 2022, a Holocaust memorial inside the Santa Rosa Memorial Park cemetery in Santa Rosa, was toppled, destroying the structure.
- In September 2021, a Jewish student in San Diego was harassed on multiple occasions by a classmate who made antisemitic and anti-Israel statements which escalated into a physical altercation.
- On May 21, 2021, two Orthodox Jewish boys were shot at with a paintball gun in the driveway of their home in Los Angeles. The younger child was hit in the chest with one of the paintballs.
ADL also included a 2023 incident, out of the 2021-22 report window because it was “deeply concerning” —detailing “shootings of two Jewish men in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles in February 2023, highlighting the importance of combating antisemitic conspiracies and tropes which were allegedly a factor motivating the shooter to violence.”
ADL recommends California policymakers “Convene Cross-Sector Stakeholders to Address Hate-Fueled Violence,” specifically calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to hold a “United We Stand Summit,” mirroring last year’s White House event, which brought together “a cross-section of national leaders representing communities at risk of hate-fueled violence, civil rights leaders and experts in addressing hate and extremism.”
ADL’s report also recommends California do more to “prevent and counter domestic terrorism” through legislation to fill gaps in current laws, create a “violent extremism commission,” hold social media platforms responsible for content, strengthen hate crime reporting by law enforcement and other government agencies, and work more to protect the civil rights of all Californians, including “those who are vulnerable or historically marginalized, such as refugees and the disenfranchised.”