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Press Release

ADL Launches Updated Database of Extremist Symbols

New York, NY, June 11, 2014 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has launched a major new online database of extremist and racist symbols and tattoos. ADL’s Hate on Display features 175 hate symbols identified as the potential “calling cards” of extremists, racists and haters and is the most comprehensive online resource available devoted to symbols and iconography employed by domestic extremists in the United States.

ADL’s original hate symbols database debuted in October 2000 with a collection of more than 70 symbols. The newly revised database is more comprehensive and includes several new categories, reflecting the fact that hate groups continue to develop and popularize new symbols even as the hateful power of old symbols endures.

“Just like Nazi Germany placed a great emphasis on symbols such as the swastika, and just as the KKK used burning crosses, nooses and other symbols to intimidate, white supremacists today place a great reliance on visual symbols to intimidate others and to privately communicate with fellow racists,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “These symbols are often the first calling cards of racists and bigots.”

ADL’s Hate on Display doesn’t just explain the symbols, but also puts the symbols into context by showing their real-world uses in a collection of more than 950 photos and images. Users can see how white supremacists use the symbols on tattoos, graffiti, clothing, as well as web graphics and hate group logos.         

The symbols identified by ADL’s Hate on Display are divided into nine categories: general hate symbols, hate acronyms & abbreviations, hate group symbols and logos, hate slogans & slang terms, Ku Klux Klan symbols, neo-Nazi symbols, numeric hate symbols, racist hand signs and racist prison gang symbols. The entries also contain warnings when particular symbols may be found in both racist and non-racist contexts.         

Hate on Display is intended as a resource for law enforcement, corrections officers, educators, parents, and other members of the public and comes highly recommended by national policing organizations.

“ADL’s extensive knowledge and expertise on hate and extremism is an invaluable resource for law enforcement,” said Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  “It is another example of how law enforcement professionals across the country rely on ADL as a critical partner in the fight against extremist and terrorist threats.”

The database provides a window into the dark world of white supremacy, showing how white supremacists display their hateful allegiances and allowing visitors to the site to decipher the codes and symbols used by white supremacists to communicate with each other. 

Users can learn about numeric codes such as 23/16 or 311 and acronyms like ACAB and AKIA; they can learn about slang terms like “peckerwood” and “featherwood;” they can see the logos and images associated with particular hate groups; and can learn the hand signs and gestures commonly used by white supremacists.

“Symbols are really important to white supremacists, as their racist subculture is very visually oriented,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Director of Investigative Research. “While some symbols fall out of use, others that have been popularized continually reappear, so it is vital that law enforcement officials and others who may encounter haters have access to the most up-to-date information on which symbols are being used and how they are employed by the bigots.”

Site users may also use the web interface to report hate symbols directly to ADL.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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