New York, NY, March 24, 2010 … Attacks on local political offices in New York and in two other states may have been inspired by an anti-government extremist who recently urged his followers to break the windows of local Democratic Party headquarters in response to the passage of the health care reform bill by Congress.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors anti-government and other extremist groups, says the call to action was issued by a longtime Alabama anti-government extremist and militia figure, Mike Vanderboegh, 57, and seems to have inspired similar attacks in at least three states.
In New York, a brick was thrown through the glass doors of the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in Rochester with a note attached that read, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." A brick also was smashed through a window at U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter's district office in Niagara Falls.
"While we may never know for certain whether this call to action inspired these brick-throwing incidents, the fact that anti-government extremists are attempting to use the passage of health reform to stir civil unrest is deeply disturbing," said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director. "We know that the vast majority of New Yorkers and indeed most Americans reject such appeals to intimidation and violence."
Vanderboegh issued the call to action March 19 on his blog, where he urged "Sons of Liberty" to break the windows of Democratic offices, saying that "it is, after all, more humane than shooting them in self-defense."
Since then, three local party and congressional offices in New York and Arizona, and one local party headquarters in Kansas, have been vandalized, with windows and doors smashed by bricks, some with anti-government messages attached.
Vanderboegh, an agitator in the loosely organized anti-government "Three Percenter" movement and a former militia and anti-immigration leader, immediately claimed credit for inspiring the attacks. He has not been charged in any of the attacks.
In November 2009, ADL issued a report, "Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies," which documented how some anti-government extremists were using the heath care debate and other issues in Washington, D.C. to foment dangerous anti-government conspiracy theories.
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.