New York, NY, February 26, 2020 … Right-wing extremists were responsible for the vast majority of extremist-related murders in the United States in 2019, with the El Paso shooting capping off a bloody decade during which the far right was responsible for 76 percent of all extremist-related murders.
ADL (Anti-Defamation League)’s annual Murder and Extremism report found that of the 42 extremist-related murders in the U.S. last year, 38 were committed by individuals subscribing to various far-right ideologies, including white supremacy.
ADL ranked 2019 as the sixth-deadliest year on record for extremist-related violence since 1970.
A total of 17 separate incidents were counted last year. The deadliest, by far, was the August white supremacist shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left 22 people dead and at least 24 more wounded. Including the El Paso attack, white supremacists were behind 81 percent of the domestic extremist-related murders in 2019. Right-wing extremists were responsible for 90 percent of such murders in 2019 and for 330 deaths over the course of the last decade, accounting for 76 percent of all domestic extremist-related murders in that time.
“Over the last decade, right-wing extremists have been responsible for more than 75 percent of extremist-related murders in this country,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “This should no longer come as a shock to anyone. Lawmakers, law enforcement and the public need to recognize the grave and dangerous threat posed by violent white supremacy. We cannot begin to defeat this deadly form of hatred if we fail to even recognize it.”
The past five years (2015-2019) include four of the deadliest years on record for extremist murders. Last year, the number of extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. declined slightly from the previous year, dropping from 53 fatalities in 2018 to 43 in 2019. But last year’s total was still higher than 2017, when 41 deaths were recorded.
For the eighth year in a row, firearms were the weapon of choice for domestic extremists. Guns were involved in 86 percent of last year’s fatalities. In the past 10 years, 315 of the 435 people (72 percent) killed in the U.S. by extremists were shot to death. The increase in extremist-related shooting sprees in recent years is of particular concern.
The Murder and Extremism data is collected and recorded annually by researchers in ADL’s Center on Extremism, and is permanently archived on the online interactive ADL H.E.A.T Map, where trends can be plotted geographically and over time.
Last year also represented the first year since 2012 that ADL recorded no domestic killings linked to domestic Islamist extremism. However, the U.S. did experience what appears to be its first lethal foreign terror attack on American soil since 9/11: In December, a Saudi Arabian aviation student thought to be motivated by Islamist extremism killed three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
Murder and Extremism in 2019: More Findings
- The El Paso attack, which left 22 dead, was the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in more than 50 years. Only the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people, were deadlier.
- Five of the incidents, with a total of 29 fatalities, were ideologically motivated attacks of some kind. Non-ideological murders were linked to gangs, domestic violence and robberies.
- Four of the murders were classified as “other/miscellaneous” extremism. This includes the Jersey City attack by David Anderson and Francine Graham, in which one police officer was killed at a cemetery and three civilians were killed at a Kosher supermarket. Both shooters had prior ties to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which defies a simple “left-right” classification scheme.