During the last two years (January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021), New York State has been witnessing a significant explosion of hare incidents. According to media reports, these incidents have been rooted, in part, in widespread campaigns of disinformation and conspiracy theories, some of which have animated extremists and fueled antisemitism, resulting in unrest and violence, from the January 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, DC to white supremacist activism to a spike in hate crimes and rising antisemitism.
According to the ADL Center on Extremism (COE) and the Community Security Initiative (CSI), a project of UJA-Federation of NY and JCRC-NY, in Buffalo, New York, a tragic manifestation of this phenomena occurred on May 14, 2022, when a gunman killed 10 people and injured 3 more inside a Tops supermarket. According to an online screed allegedly written by the shooter and posted before the attack, he espoused white supremacist, racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories and claimed his goal was to “spread awareness to my fellow whites about the real problems the West is facing”, and “encourage further attacks that will eventually start the war that will save the Western world”.
New groups that espouse the same conspiracies and intolerance, such as White Lives Matter, have formed, and already existing neo-Nazi and accelerationist groups have broadened their audience both online and in real-world activities. Other extremist groups such as militia groups and the Proud Boys have shifted their strategies to focus on the local level, disrupting school board meetings and even running for elected positions.
New York also leads the nation in antisemitic incidents, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 24 percent over 2020 numbers, rising from 336 to 416.
This included 51 assaults motivated by anti-Jewish bias, the highest number ever recorded by ADL in New York. These numbers also include a spike in antisemitic incidents driven by extreme anti-Israel sentiments during the May 2021 Israel-Hamas war. During this time, incidents motivated by anti-Zionist sentiments included assault, arson threats, and harassment.
Given the rise in extremist threats across the US and the alarming number of antisemitic hate crimes in New York in recent years, COE and CSI began collaborating in 2020 to specifically focus on the security needs of the Jewish communities of New York. In this capacity, the two organizations currently are monitoring and tracking antisemitism, hate and other types of violent extremism in New York and across the country.
There is a broad diversity of extremist threats in New York state emanating from the many groups and individuals who identify as anti-government extremists, militias, white supremacists and radical Islamists. Throughout 2020 and 2021, they have engaged in an array of activities, including: threatening local officials, funding terrorism, conducting cyber-attacks, organizing rallies, engaging in propaganda distributions and even committing violence.
White supremacist propaganda distribution accounts for a large proportion of extremist-related incidents in New York. From January to December 2020, there was a total of 616 extremist and antisemitic incidents statewide, with cases of white supremacist propaganda distribution representing 50% of those incidents. While the number of propaganda drops decreased 31% from 308 in 2020 to 212 in 2021, New York State ranked 7th nationally in the number of white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2021. The highest distributors of this propaganda across both years were the virulently antisemitic and racist groups Patriot Front and New Jersey European Heritage Association. In 2021, a newly formed network of white supremacists, called White Lives Matter, was the third-highest leafleting perpetrator in the state.
Hate crimes have more than doubled in New York City since 2020. According to NYPD data on confirmed hate crime incidents across the five boroughs of New York City, hate crimes increased 196% from 2020 (266 incidents) to 2021 (522 incidents). In both 2020 and 2021, the four communities most targeted in hate crimes incidents were the Jewish community, the Asian community, the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community.
Antisemitic hate crimes continued to rise in New York over the last two years. According to NYPD data on confirmed hate crime incidents across the five boroughs, from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021, Jews were the most targeted group, with a total of 317 incidents committed against the Jewish community, accounting for 40% of hate crimes in the New York City during that time period. Total incidents increased 62% between 2020 (121 incidents) and 2021 (196 incidents). In 2020, anti-Jewish crimes across New York State accounted for the overwhelming majority of religiously motivated incidents, over 88% (182 of 206). Across all categories in 2020, hate crimes targeting the Jewish community accounted for 37.3% (182 of 488) of all hate crime incidents in New York State.
New York leads the nation in antisemitic incidents, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. In 2021, incidents in the state accounted for 15% of total reported antisemitic incidents nationally and represented a 24% increase over 2020 numbers (416 vs 336). This included 51 assaults motivated by anti-Jewish bias, the highest number ever recorded by ADL in New York. It also includes antisemitic incidents motivated by extreme anti-Israel sentiments, including assault, arson threats, and harassment that took place during the May 2021 Israel-Gaza war.
New York had the fourth highest number of people per state arrested for the Capitol insurrection. To date, 58 New York residents have been arrested and charged for their alleged participation in the January 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington, D.C. This includes avowed white supremacists, members of the anti-government Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and QAnon adherents.
Additionally, a 2020 State Senate candidate and a current member of the Queens County District Council were arrested for their alleged participation.
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