RISE IN EXTREMIST THREATS IN NEW YORK STATE

Encore: August 01, 2022

The white supremacist shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo was the latest example of a broad and troubling trend of rising extremism in New York State, which also saw more antisemitic incidents take place than any other state in the country last year.  This is according to a new report issued today by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism and the Community Security Initiative. The report titled, “Hate in the Empire State: Extremism & Antisemitism in New York,” details a disturbing snapshot of increasing extremism across New York, bolstered in part by widespread campaigns of disinformation and conspiracy theories.  Scott Richman, the New York/New Jersey Regional Director of the ADL, joins us as part of our Exploring Hate initiative to break down this report and share what we can do to reverse these trends.

For more information on “Hate in the Empire State: Extremism & Antisemitism in New York,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD.

NEW YORK STATE HAD MORE ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS OF HATE THIS PAST YEAR THAN ANY OTHER STATE IN THE NATION.

THAT, ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT BY THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE TITLED 'HATE IN THE EMPIRE STATE: EXTREMISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM IN NEW YORK.'

THE REPORT SHOWS THAT HATE CRIMES HAVE INCREASED AGAINST ALL MINORITY GROUPS, BOTH IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, LIKE PAINFULLY IN BUFFALO WHERE WE WITNESSED RACIST CONSPIRACY THEORIES DIRECTLY LEADING TO THAT MASS SHOOTING, AND IN NEW YORK CITY, WHERE HATE CRIMES WENT UP A STAGGERING 196% FROM 2020 TO 2021.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THESE DISTURBING TRENDS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO TO HOPEFULLY REVERSE THEM IS SCOTT RICHMAN, THE NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE.

SCOTT JOINS US AS PART OF OUR EXPLORING HATE INITIATIVE, EXAMINING THE ROOTS AND RISE OF ANTI-SEMITISM, RACISM AND EXTREMISM IN AMERICA.

SCOTT, WELCOME.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME ON, JACK.

SO, LET'S START WITH THIS REPORT AND GIVE US A SENSE OF STRUCTURE AND CONTENT.

WHAT IS THE TIMEFRAME THAT IS INCLUDED HERE?

WHAT WAS THE FOCUS OF THE INVESTIGATION THAT LED TO THIS REPORT?

SO, THIS IS A REPORT THAT'S NOT JUST ON ANTI-SEMITISM, ADL RELEASED ITS ANNUAL AUDIT A FEW WEEKS AGO.

THIS IS DIFFERENT.

THIS IS A REPORT ON EXTREMISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM.

IT'S A BROADER LOOK AT HATE WITHIN THE STATE, IT'S NOT JUST HATE FOCUSED AGAINST JEWS, BUT HATE FOCUSED ON MANY GROUPS AND, OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, WE DON'T LIVE IN A VACUUM HERE AND WE'VE SEEN A GENERAL RISE IN HATE AGAINST -- AGAINST THE BLACK COMMUNITY, AGAINST THE LATINO COMMUNITY, AGAINST MUSLIMS, AGAINST, CERTAINLY, THE ASIAN VIOLENCE WE'VE SEEN, AND AGAINST THE LGBTQ PLUS COMMUNITY.

THESE ARE SOME OF THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE PRIMARILY TARGETED.

SO, THE PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT WAS REALLY TO LOOK MORE BROADLY AT THIS ISSUE OF HATE IN NEW YORK STATE AND FOCUS SPECIFICALLY ON EXTREMISM FROM 2020, JANUARY 2020, TO THE END OF 2021.

LOOK AT A DISCREET TWO-YEAR PERIOD.

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE NOTION OF HATE INCIDENTS OR HATE CRIMES, ESPECIALLY IN THE REPORT, WHAT'S THE DEFINITION THAT'S BEING USED?

SO, LOOK, THERE A DIFFERENCE HERE BETWEEN HATE INCIDENTS AND HATE CRIMES.

REALLY IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

HATE CRIMES ARE -- ARE BIAS MOTIVATED INCIDENTS THAT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF A CRIME.

SOMETHING FOR WHICH YOU WOULD NEED TO CALL THE POLICE.

SOMETHING FOR WHICH YOU CAN BE ARRESTED.

SO, A LOT OF TIMES WHAT HAPPENS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, WHAT HAPPENS ON THE STREET, SOMEBODY CALLING YOU SOMETHING HATEFUL, CALLING SOMEBODY A DIRTY JEW ON THE STREET OR, YOU KNOW, GAS THE JEWS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, THOSE ARE NOT HATE CRIMES, THEY ARE HATE INCIDENTS.

AND HATE CRIMES ARE NOT ALWAYS SO EASY TO PROVE, BECAUSE YOU NEED TO PROVE BIAS MOTIVATION.

YOU NEED TO SHOW THAT SOMETHING THAT THEY SAID OR SOMETHING THAT THEY DID OR SOMETHING IN THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA FEED SCHOLES THEY'RE BIASED, NOT JUST THEY TARGETED AN ASIAN PERSON, OR NOT THAT THEY JUST TARGETED AN AFRICAN AMERICAN PERSON.

IT HAS TO BE MORE THAN THAT.

NOT ALWAYS SO EASY TO PROVE A HATE CRIME.

NEVERTHELESS, WE'VE SEEN, AND THIS REPORT SHOWS, THAT FROM 2020 TO 2021, HATE CRIMES DOUBLED IN NEW YORK, WHICH IS VERY, VERY DISTURBING.

AND THAT'S ACTUALLY COMING FROM THE NYPD DATA, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT DATA.

AND THAT THE GROUPS THAT PRIMARILY WERE TARGETED WERE THE LGBTQ PLUS COMMUNITY, THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, AND THE -- SORRY, THE ASIANCOMMUNITY AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY.

LET'S FOCUS ON SOME UNDERSTANDING OF WHY THE RISE.

BECAUSE CLEARLY WE NEED TO DO SOME ANSWERS TO THAT BEFORE WE MOVE ONTO HOW DO WE REMEDY THIS.

LET ME START WITH A STATISTIC THAT I OFFERED UP IN THE BEGINNING ABOUT NEW YORK STATE HAVING MORE ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS OF HATE THAN ANY OTHER STATE IN THE ENTIRE NATION.

VERY DISTURBING.

YEAH.

WHY DO WE THINK THAT'S HAPPENING?

AND I'LL TELL YOU, AS THE DIRECTOR OF ALD'S OFFICE COVERING NEW YORK, AND WE HAVE 25 OFFICES AND I'M THE DIRECTOR FOR NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK IS NUMBER ONE, NEW JERSEY IS NUMBER TWO.

DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU?

IN YOUR FUNCTION, AND WE HEAR STORIES ALL THE TIME, SADLY, ON THE NEWS.

WHEN YOU SAW THAT STATISTIC, MORE THAN ANY OTHER STATE IN THE NATION, DID THAT SURPRISE YOU?

SO, YOU KNOW, I WILL SAY THAT IT SURPRISES ME FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF, YOU KNOW, I LIKE TO THINK WE LIVE IN A DIVERSE METROPOLIS, YOU KNOW, ONE THAT'S TOLERANT, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE IS A CORRELATION.

THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE NUMBER OF JEWS AND THE NUMBER OF ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS.

THERE ARE MORE JEWS IN THE NEW YORK AREA THAN ANY OTHER AREA ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

1.75 MILLION, WITH ANOTHER ALMOST 600,000 IN NEW JERSEY.

SO, IT'S NOT SO SURPRISING.

YOU DON'T NEED JEWS FOR ANTI-SEMITISM NECESSARILY, BUT WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ATTACKS ON JEWISH INSTITUTIONS, THERE ARE MORE HERE THAN ANY OTHER PLACE.

WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ASSAULT AGAINST JEWS, YOU KNOW, YOU DO NEED JEWS FOR THAT.

VISIBLY IDENTIFIABLE JEWS.

MANY OF THESE ATTACKS AGAINST JEWS ARE AGAINST THOSE WHO HAVE SOME SORT OF MARKER.

THEY'RE WEARING A YAMMA KA, THEY HAVE A SHIRT, PERHAPS THEY ARE WHAT SIDDIC JEWS AND ALL OF THEIR DRESS IDENTIFIES THEM AS JEWISH.

THERE IS A CORRELATION THERE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS AT PLAY HERE.

WHAT ABOUT THE PRESENCE AND THE GROWTH OF IDENTIFIABLE HATE GROUPS IN THE NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY AREA?

WHAT DID YOU FIND?

THE REPORT LAYS OUT SEVERAL DIFFERENT TYPES OF GROUPS AND HERE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT NOT JUST ANTI-SEMITISM, BUT ABOUT EXTREMISM IN GENERAL.

YOU HAVE THE GROWTH OF WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS AND I WAS ON THE GROUND IN BUFFALO, I WAS ACTUALLY IN BUFFALO FOR THREE DAYS STARTING ON SATURDAY NIGHT, ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS MASS SHOOTING THAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK, WEEK AND A HALF AGO, AND THAT MASS SHOOTING WAS DONE BY A PERSON WHO BOUGHT INTO WHITE SUPREMACIST IDEAS, BOUGHT INTO THE GREAT REPLACEMENT THEORY.

THAT PERSON HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED AS BEING PART OF A PARTICULAR GROUP, BUT THERE ARE PARTICULAR GROUPS THAT ARE WORKING IN NEW YORK STATE, LIKE THE PATRIOT FRONT, LIKE THE NEW JERSEY EUROPEAN HERITAGE ASSOCIATION, IS ACTUALLY A NEW JERSEY-BASED GROUP, BUT THEY ARE QUITE ACTIVE IN NEW YORK.

AND THE WHITE LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT.

SO, THOSE -- THOSE ARE THE PRINCIPLE WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS, BUT IT'S NOT JUST WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS THAT WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT.

IT'S ALSO THE NATIONALIST OR THE -- LET'S CALL THEM THE RIGHT WING VIOLENT GROUPS, OR MILITIA GROUPS, LIKE THE PROUD BOYS.

WE'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT THE PROUD BOYS.

AND THE OATH KEEPERS.

PROUD BOYS AND OATH KEEPERS ARE TWO BROWNS ASSOCIATED WITH THE JANUARY 6th INSURRECTION.

QUITE ACTIVE HERE IN NEW YORK.

YOU HAVE THE NEW YORK WATCHMEN, WHO ARE ACTIVE IN WESTERN NEW YORK, WHERE THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE IN BUFFALO.

SO, YOU KNOW, QUITE A NUMBER OF GROUPS.

PLUS, YOU HAVE GROUPS THAT ARE NOT ON THE FAR RIGHT.

YOU HAVE SOME ISLAMIST GROUPS, YOU HAVE THE NATION OF ISLAM, WHO ARE EXTREMIST GROUPS WHO HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRYING OUT ACTS.

WE'RE ALSO VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT.

WHAT DID YOU FIND WITH REGARD TO THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

YOU KNOW, WE OFTEN HEAR THE EXPRESSION, SOCIAL MEDIA IS WONDERFUL, EXCEPT WHEN IT ISN'T.

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA OF FANNING THE FLAMES OF HATRED.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS A PROBLEM.

IT HAS A LOT OF BENEFITS.

IT GIVES PEOPLE A VOICE.

IT MAKES US, YOU KNOW, MUCH MORE DEMOCRATIC WORLD, WHERE PEOPLE HAVE THAT VOICE, BUT THE PROBLEM IS, IT ALSO GIVES HATERS A VOICE.

AND IT'S BEEN A HUGE DRIVER OF HATE.

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE RISE IN HATE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND BY THE WAY, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT MANY, MANY DECADES OF A RISE IN HATE, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PERHAPS A DECADE'S WORTH OF TIME HERE, WHERE WE'VE SEEN HATE STEADILY RISE OVER THE COURSE OF A DECADE.

AND SOCIAL MEDIA'S BEEN A BIG DRIVER OF THAT.

BECAUSE IT GIVES PEOPLE WHOLE OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE HAD THEIR VOICE MARGINALIZED.

THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN PUSHED TO THE EXTREMES.

IT GIVES THEM A PLATFORM FOR GETTING THEIR HATE OUT.

I MEAN, JUST THINK ABOUT IT.

IF SOMEBODY IN 1995 WANTED TO GET THEIR VOICE OUT, THEY WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO HAVE APPROACHED A TELEVISION STATION, A RADIO STATION, A NEWSPAPER.

AND THOSE ENTITIES WOULD HAVE INVARIABLY SAID, NO, THIS DOES NOT FIT WITH OUR VALUES, YOU CANNOT PUT YOUR VOICE ON OUR RADIO STATION, TELEVISION STATION, OR IN OUR NEWSPAPER.

AND THAT'S TRADITIONALLY THE WAY THAT HATE IS CONTROLLED.

CIVIL SOCIETY PUSHES IT TO THE MARGINS.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA IS THAT THEY HAVE PLATFORMS.

THEY DON'T NEED TO ASK ANYBODY.

AND SOME OF THOSE PLATFORMS, THANKS IN PART TO THE WORK OF ADL, NOW HAVE WHAT WE CALL CONTENT MODERATION POLICIES, POLICIES THAT SAY, NO, THERE ARE LIMITS.

THERE ARE LIMITS TO WHAT YOU CAN DO, THE HATE THAT YOU CAN PUT ON OUR SITE.

WELL, THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS, FIRST OF ALL, THEY NEED TO -- THEY NEED TO CONTROL THAT, THEY NEED TO BE ON TOP OF THAT.

ADL'S PLAYED A ROLE IN SAYING TO FACEBOOK AND SNAPCHAT AND INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER AND TIKTOK THAT, YOU HAVE THESE POLICIES BUT YOU'RE NOT ABIDING BY ALL OF THEM.

WE PUT OUT A REPORT CARD VERY FREQUENTLY ON HOW WELL SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES ARE DOING THAT.

BUT YOU KNOW, THE OTHER PROBLEM WITH THAT IS THAT THERE ARE -- THERE ARE SITES LIKE TELEGRAM AND GAB AND PARLOR THAT DON'T HAVE CONTENT MODERATION POLICIES, SO YOU SEE MANY OF THESE EXTREMISTS GRAVITATE TOLL THOSE SITES.

WE SAW THAT WITH THE SHOOTER IN BUFFALO, THAT HE WAS ON DISCORD, THAT HE PUT THE -- YOU COULD FIND VIDEO OF HIM DOING THIS ATTACK ON THOSE FAR RIGHT SITES.

AS YOU SAID --

STILL CIRCULATING AROUND.

THE MARGINS IN SOME WAYS DON'T EXIST ANYMORE.

A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT.

I KNOW THIS REPORT -- PEOPLE SHOULD READ IT.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO READ IT.

AND THERE'S A SECTION ON RECOMMENDATIONS.

WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT ALL OF THEM, BUT IN THE MINUTE THAT WE HAVE, GIVE ME SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF RECOMMENDATIONS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF THIS REPORT.

YEAH, THERE ARE QUITE A NUMBER OF RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT ONE OF THEM IS TO FORM AN ANTI-SEMITISM COMMISSION AT THE STATE LEVEL.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

TO INCREASE IS FUNDING FOR NONPROFIT SECURITY, TO DOUBLE IT FROM 25 MILLION TO 50 MILLION.

TO FIND A WAY TO REPORT BETTER THE HATE CRIMES THAT ARE HAPPENING AND TO CREATE AN ENTITY WITHIN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE TO DO THAT.

SO, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE MANY CONSTRUCTIVE WAYS TO ATTACK HATE, BUT I WANT TO SAY, YOU KNOW, IN ADDITION TO ALL OF THOSE, THERE ARE MANY FAR-REACHING AND FUTURE PROACTIVE KINDS OF WAYS.

ANTI-BIAS PROGRAM, ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS IN OUR SCHOOLS.

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN OUR SCHOOLS.

THESE WILL LOOK FORWARD TO A FUTURE WHERE PEOPLE RESPECT ONE ANOTHER, WHERE PEOPLE CELEBRATE DIVERSITY.

AND THINGS THAT WE CAN ALL DO AND WE CAN ALL ENGAGE IN.

ABSOLUTELY.

SCOTT RICHMAN, AGAIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THE REPORT IS TITLED 'HATE IN THE EMPIRE STATE: EXTREMISM AND ANTI-RECEIVETISM IN NEW YORK'. SCOTT, BE WELL.

TAKE CARE NOW.

THANK YOU.

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