The data found that such activity has in fact increased both on and off US college campuses.
“A total of 2,713 cases of literature distribution – an average of more than seven per day – were reported nationwide, compared to 1,214 in 2018,” the ADL report states.
In addition, every US state except Hawaii reported at least one white supremacist propaganda incident in 2019. The greatest amounts of propaganda activity were reported in California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Washington and Florida.
The report also found that 630 such incidents were reported on college campuses last year, compared to 320 incidents reported on US campuses in 2018.
Propaganda instances on campus made up “one-quarter of the total incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution nationwide,” the report explains.
“White supremacists see propaganda distribution – including flyering, leafleting and stickering – as a convenient and practically anonymous way to promote their messages of hate and intolerance,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt is quoted as saying in the Wednesday news release. “While we know extremists and hate groups are emboldened by the current environment, this surge in flyering and propaganda distribution powerfully demonstrates how bigots are able to spread their message without compromising their anonymity.”
The ADL also found that the biggest increase in propaganda incidents on campus took place during the fall semester of 2019, representing a 159% increase compared to the same period in 2018.
Three white supremacist groups - the Patriot Front, the American Identity Movement and the New Jersey European Heritage Association - are believed to be responsible for distributing around 90% of such propaganda in 2019. In fact, 66% of all propaganda incidents last year were linked to the Patriot Front.
“The barrage of propaganda, which overwhelmingly features veiled white supremacist language with a ‘patriotic’ slant, is an attempt to normalize the white supremacists’ message and bolster recruitment efforts while targeting minority groups including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants and the LGBTQ community,” Oren Segal, the vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, is quoted as saying in the release.
Despite the increase in white propaganda distribution, the report also found that white supremacist events decreased by 20% between 2018 and 2019, from 95 to 76 events nationwide. The number of flash demonstrations held by white supremacist groups also decreased from 43 to 26 between 2018 and 2019.