Have Hate, Will Travel: The Demographics of Unite the Right

  • October 8, 2017
States represented at the Unite the Right rally

Unite the Right drew white supremacists from at least 35 states, according to new research from ADL’s Center on Extremism. This is evidence of the event’s widespread appeal, and of the ability of these extremists to attract a broad, national audience, who are willing to travel significant distances to express their hateful views.

Center on Extremism analysts have identified 200 of the estimated 500-600 individuals who showed up to support Unite the Right. This number does not include the 2000 or so counter-protesters who also lined Charlottesville’s streets on August 12. Most were from the Eastern half of the country, but further-flung states like Alaska, California, Arizona and Washington were also represented. This is attributable in large part to the unprecedented variety of white supremacist groups — from racist skinheads to Klan members — who came together for this event.

The willingness of so many people to commit both time and financial resources to travel for the cause points to a movement energized by the leadership of the alt right, and actively capitalizing on a perceived window of opportunity to spread their message and recruit new members.

It’s also a demonstration of the alt right’s successful transition from a largely an online, or virtual, phenomenon to a “real world” movement.

Among the COE findings:

  • The alt right is overwhelmingly young and male; only seven percent of the 200 identified Unite the Right attendees were women.
  • Most alt right adherents are new to white supremacy; this movement is their first association with the ideology.
  • Unite the Right drew 5 times as many people as any white supremacist event in the last decade. (Prior to Unite the Right, the two largest events in 2017 were the National Socialist Movement’s April 2017 rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, which drew 100 to 125 individuals, and the alt right’s first Charlottesville rally, held in May, which drew 75 to 100 people).

For some attendees, Unite the Right was the first white supremacist rally they had ever attended. Others are part of a core group of white supremacists that travel around the country attending events, several of whom have been arrested at other white supremacist rallies or protests this year.

  • Ryan M. King a League of the South member from Montgomery, Alabama, was arrested for disorderly conduct for his role in a fight in Auburn, Alabama, while attending Richard Spencer’s April speech at Auburn University. He has since been convicted.
  • Florida League of the South member Christopher Rey Monzon was arrested following an altercation in New Orleans during a pro-Confederate monument rally in May 2017. And in late August, after “Unite the Right,” Monzon was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and inciting a riot in Hollywood, Florida, after he allegedly charged into a crowd of civil rights activists.
  • In May, Brittany Venti, an alt right internet personality, was arrested at a May Day demonstration in New York during a clash with anti-fascist protesters.