On the weekend of August 11-12, 2017, hundreds of right-wing extremists descended on Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of the city’s Robert E. Lee statue. The night before the rally, torch-wielding white supremacists marched across the University of Virginia campus, shouting racist, antisemitic rhetoric, including “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” The following day, violent clashes erupted on the streets, and a white supremacist murdered counter protester Heather Heyer. The searing images from the weekend shocked the world.
In the days and weeks leading up to Unite the Right, ADL Center on Extremism closely monitored white supremacist activity, identifying key players and providing key assessments to law enforcement in Virginia and beyond. In the months and years that followed, our experts’ critical research helped inform Sines v. Kessler, a groundbreaking civil lawsuit against the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally. In late 2021, the plaintiffs won their lawsuit, and were awarded millions of dollars in damages. That case served as a model for a number of federal civil pending lawsuits arising out of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Also in 2021, ADL launched the PROTECT Plan that aims to address increasing domestic terrorism driven by domestic violent extremism while safeguarding civil rights and civil liberties.
Unite the Right was the largest and most violent public assembly of white supremacists in decades. The backlash to the events of that weekend was swift, changing the perception and direction of white supremacist groups in the United States and around the world. Today, white supremacists have reimagined their messaging and tactics, but remain a critical threat, as clearly evidenced by attacks in Pittsburgh, El Paso, Poway and Buffalo, and by their participation in attempts to intimidate vulnerable communities and subvert our democracy.
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GLOSSARY OF EXTREMISM
A continually updated compilation of extremism-related definitions, including hundreds of frequently cited extremist terms, ideologies and more. A key resource for anyone who wants to better understand extremism.
HATE SYMBOLS DATABASE
An extensive database of many of the symbols frequently used by white supremacists, anti-government extremists and other hate groups. Learn to recognize the signs of hate.
ADL Research on Unite the Right
ADL Center on Extremism Resources
Resources for Educators & Families:
Are White Supremacists Coming for Your Teens? (Blog)
After Charlottesville: Teaching about Racism, Antisemitism and White Supremacy (Educational Resources)