New York, NY, March 6, 2017 … White supremacists, emboldened by the 2016 elections and the current political climate, are currently engaged in an unprecedented outreach effort to attract and recruit students on American college campuses. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has cataloged 107 incidents of white supremacist fliering on college campuses since the school year began in September 2016, with surge of activity since January 2017, when 63 of the total incidents (61 percent) occurred.
Until recently, on-the-ground white supremacist actions have been relatively infrequent on college campuses. But this year has been different, according to ADL’s Center on Extremism. White supremacists are using a variety of tactics including anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and racist fliers, as well as on-campus appearances and speeches by racist activists.
“White supremacists have consciously made the decision to focus their recruitment efforts on students and have in some cases openly boasted of efforts to establish a physical presence on campus,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO. “While there have been recruitment efforts in the past, never have we seen anti-Semites and white supremacists so focused on outreach to students on campus.”
White supremacist engagement tactics on campus range from the virtual, such as sending racist fliers to thousands of campus fax machines, to on the ground rallies and speaking engagements. More extremists are also making a point of visiting campuses to speak with students individually. This is part of a push to move their activism from online chatter to “real world” action.
Racist fliers and posters have been reported on campuses in at least 25 states, and some white supremacists are waging more forceful campaigns to establish a physical presence on campus. Active groups include:
- Identity Evropa, an “alt-right” group concerned with preserving “white American culture” and promoting white European identity. The group claims it has distributed fliers on more than 30 university campuses and this year launched “Project Siege,” an effort to speak directly to students on campus. Identity Evropa is a small white supremacist group founded by Nathan Damigo, an Iraqi war veteran based in California, in early 2016.
- American Vanguard, another group created in 2016. The group, based in Southern California, is responsible for the majority of white supremacist fliers and events tracked over the last several months, including fliers that blanketed the campus at the University of Texas, Austin.
- American Renaissance, an anti-Semitic and racist group, launched a hate-filled campus campaign, which for now seems to be limited to hanging “pro-white” propaganda posters. Jared Taylor, the group’s leader, encouraged “racial activists” to place the posters in high traffic areas around campus to generate attention and awareness.
Some of the more disturbing incidents reported on campus include:
- Feb. 21, 2017 – Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va. – student wearing ODU sweatshirt tweeted a music video called “white power” that spread around campus.
- Feb. 15, 2017 – University of Southern California, Los Angeles – vendor (had prior permission) was asked to leave after it was discovered he/she was selling shirts and albums with swastika symbols.
- Feb. 10, 2017 – Adolf Hitler valentine cards "my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews" circulated at Central Michigan University, Pleasant, Mich.
- Jan. 18, 2017 – Printer hacked caused anti-Semitic fliers to be printed – Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
- Dec. 6, 2016 – White nationalist Richard Spencer spoke at Texas A&M, College Station, Tex., as a guest of Preston Wiginton.