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2020 Was A Hateful Year: PA Saw Record Highs in White Supremacy and Anti-Semitism

2020 Was A Hateful Year: PA Saw Record Highs in White Supremacy and Anti-Semitism | Newtown News of Interest |

[ADL "Heat Map" shows white supremacist propaganda and anti-semitism incidents in PA 2019-2020.]


As Pennsylvania life languished in the early days of the pandemic and most people stayed home, vandals left their mark in Philadelphia.


The graffiti in March 2020 included multiple swastikas and other symbols of hate, including the white supremacist symbol "1488" that partially pledges allegiance to Hitler.


And a disturbing message was found inside a public restroom in the city, which had a powerful Black voting bloc capable of determining the outcome of an election: "We need to re-implement Jim Crow."


The message referred to laws in the southern states that enforced racial segregation and disenfranchised Black voters.


Hate symbols found that day were among 330 incidents reported last year in Pennsylvania by the Anti-Defamation League — a record high since the ADL started tracking cases in the state five years ago.


Most of the incidents involved white supremacist propaganda, while 96 were anti-Semitic incidents and eight were white supremacist events.


The findings line up with those noted by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the top civil rights agency in the state, and numerous personal experiences shared on social media.


White supremacist propaganda surged across the U.S. in 2020, with 5,125 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful messages reported by the ADL. Last year marked "the highest level of incidents reported since ADL began tracking such data." There was an average of about 14 incidents per day and nearly double the 2,724 cases reported in 2019.


Most of the cases were tied to 30 far right and white supremacy groups that spread propaganda in every state but Hawaii.


While the highest number of incidents were reported in Philadelphia, its suburbs, the Poconos, Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh and the Harrisburg area, the ADL report shows hate was widespread through at least 100 communities in Pennsylvania.


Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said his organization is concerned about the nation’s police ranks. White supremacists and other extremists are sometimes infiltrating police forces, Greenblatt said. They "believe that these agencies give them a type of credibility and also the training they need to carry out future actions. This is a very, very alarming moment coming off of the election," he told USA TODAY Network.


One of the reasons Pennsylvania is near the top of the list among states where white supremacist propaganda is that white supremacists don't need to fear any hate speech laws in the state. They don't exist.


And one of the reasons anti-Semitic incidents increased 69% in Pennsylvania from 2019 to 2020 is because there aren't strong laws against it in the state, critics said.


"Anti-Semitism is really white supremacy," said Chad Lassiter, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. "Pennsylvania has a white supremacy problem."


Lassiter has repeatedly called for a sense of urgency in solving these problems in the state, which hasn't been easy during a year with the biggest public health crisis in a century.


"We need to treat racism like the public health emergency that it is," he said.

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Newtown News of Interest
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