Report Finds Texas Led The Nation In White Supremacy Propaganda Incidents In 2019

Feb 17, 2020
Originally published on February 17, 2020 12:03 pm

Displays and demonstrations in support of white supremacy doubled in the United States last year, according to a new study, and Texas led the country in incidents.

In 2019, there were just over 2,700 instances nationally in which white supremacists demonstrated or distributed material that was racist, anti-Semitic or anti-LGBTQ, according to the Anti-Defamation League's reportThat's more than a six-fold increase since 2017.

The ADL, a nongovernmental organization that monitors hate speech, says two-thirds of those incidents involved the Texas-based group known as Patriot Front, which formed out of a group that helped organize the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Renee Lafair with ADL in Austin says that because of the group, Texas is atop the list of states when it comes to incidents of racist propaganda, with 228 incidents in 2019.

"Patriot Front is the reason that Texas has the highest activity for any state in 2019," she said.

Despite that activity, she says the group's recruitment and its overall influence are inflated. There are just a few dozen members in Texas and a few hundred nationally, and outside of their attempts to propagandize racism, their communications are largely limited to online chat services like Discord. 

The study's authors say hate groups are continuing propaganda campaigns on college campuses.

There were 630 documented instances of that last year. Lafair says the campaigns present a challenge for universities, which must walk a fine line in protecting people's right to free speech, while trying to combat hate speech.

"The approaches we've seen on campuses that have been effective have been when administration says, you know, you have a First Amendment right to do what you want," she said, "but understand that that is not a part of our culture that we're building at this campus and that everyone is welcome here and this is an inclusive campus."

UT Austin and Texas State have both seen a handful of incidents involving neo-Nazis and white nationalists over the last year, but overall the report says white nationalists have "failed to gain a foothold" on campuses.

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