Extremist Groups and Trends in Arizona: 5 Things You Need to Know

Militia-Border Patrol

August 22, 2017

Updated: August 28, 2017

On Friday, August 25, President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio. The following is part of ADL's statement condemning the President's decision:

"No person in this country is above the law. Arpaio was convicted by a federal judge, and has never shown any remorse for his unlawful acts and his unabashed bigotry. The president’s decision to pardon him is inexcusable."


President Trump’s August 22 rally in Phoenix, Arizona, is being billed an attempt to unite the country and move on following last week’s violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

But the lead-up to the president’s appearance in Phoenix has not been without controversy. There’s ongoing concern that the president is considering a pardon for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the divisive and polarizing public official whose racial profiling of Hispanics resulted in his conviction for ignoring a judicial order to stop profiling.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

While no alt-right groups or white supremacists have publicly announced that they will attend the president’s speech, members of the “antifa” have indicated that they will be in Phoenix tonight to protest the president’s policies.

ADL opened its regional office in Phoenix in 1983, and has been involved in monitoring hate groups, extremists and border vigilantes and militia groups in the region for even longer.

Here are five things you need to know about extremist groups and trends in Arizona:

  1. Arizona has a long history as the flashpoint for the most extreme anti-immigrant activists and groups in the country. Active groups include Arizona Border Recon, Mountain Minutemen Posse, American Border Patrol, Arizona Border Guard, and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform).

  2. Some Arizona civic leaders have also pioneered harsh anti-immigrant legislation, which created templates for other states to follow suit. In 2012, an ADL report identified Sheriff Joe Arpaio as one of the key players in the anti-immigrant movement, alongside a number of figures who played a role in making Arizona the center of the anti-immigrant movement in the United States. Others on ADL’s list included Russell Pearce, Kris Kobach and Glenn Spencer.

  3. Other groups also involved in conducting patrols along the border with Mexico: U.S. Border Guard, III Percenters, and the National Socialist Movement (the largest white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization in the country).

  4. Arizona is a state with comparatively few anti-Semitic incidents, although recently the numbers have risen slightly. According to ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, there were 14 anti-Semitic incidents in Arizona in the first quarter of 2017 alone; that was significantly higher than the 10 incidents reported in all of 2016, and the four incidents reported in all of 2015.
  5. Recent hate crimes and incidents in the news:  On the first day of the fall semester last Thursday, student kiosks at Arizona State University were papered with racist fliers printed from, a web site run by white supremacist Richard Spencer.  Earlier this summer anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on an East Phoenix Jewish family’s mailbox. And in December 2016, a Jewish family’s menorah display on their front lawn was contorted into the shape of a swastika.

Here are some more facts about ADL’s presence in Phoenix:

  • ADL’s Phoenix Office reaches 50,000 students in 40 schools across the state annually through ADL’s prestigious No Place for Hate, which promotes anti-bias initiatives in schools and communities.

  • ADL’s Arizona Region has a Latino regional director, Carlos Galindo-Elvira, who is Jewish and who has spearheaded Latino-Jewish dialogue in the region.  ADL works closely with the Latino community in speaking out against prejudice and bigotry, pushing back against anti-immigrant rhetoric, groups and violence, and in responding to hate crimes.

  • ADL’s Arizona Office coordinates trainings for local and state law enforcement agencies on community security issues, advising the authorities on hate and extremist groups and providing them with training on how to appropriately respond to hate crimes and incidents.