New York, NY, January 17, 2018… The number of white supremacist murders in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, far surpassing murders committed by domestic Islamic extremists and making 2017 the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence since 1970.
In its annual assessment of extremist-related killings, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, up dramatically from 20 percent in 2016.
White supremacists were directly responsible for 18 of the total 34 extremist-related murders in 2017, according to the new ADL report, Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017. A total of nine deaths were linked to Islamic extremists.
The most recent ADL data shows that over the last decade a total of 71 percent of all fatalities have been linked to domestic right-wing extremists, while 26 percent of the killings were committed by Islamic extremists. The other 3 percent of deaths were carried out by extremists not falling into either category.
“These findings are a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We saw two car-ramming attacks in the U.S. last year-- one from an Islamic terrorist and another from a white supremacist in Charlottesville—and the number of deaths attributed to white supremacists increased substantially. The bottom line is we cannot ignore one form of extremism over another. We must tackle them all.”
Murder and Extremism in 2017: Major Findings
ADL’s Center on Extremism has been tracking data on domestic extremist-related murder in the U.S. since 1970. The 2017 assessment found:
- With 34 total deaths, 2017 was the fifth deadliest year for extremist violence since 1970, but there was a marked decline from the much higher total fatalities recorded in 2016 and 2015.
- The 18 white supremacist murders included several killings linked to the alt right as that movement expanded its operations in 2017 from the internet into the physical world – raising the likely possibility of more such violent acts in the future.
- Unlike 2016, a year dominated by the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, committed by an Islamic extremist, a majority of the 2017 murders were committed by right-wing extremists, primarily white supremacists, as has typically been the case most years.
- Far-right extremist violence accounted for 59 percent of the total, or 20 deaths.
- An Islamic extremist still committed the single deadliest incident in 2017: the New York City bike path vehicular homicide attack, which killed eight people.
“When white supremacists and other extremists are emboldened and find new audiences for their hate-filled views, violence is usually not far behind,” Greenblatt said. “We cannot ignore the fact that white supremacists are emboldened, and as a society we need to keep a close watch on recruitment and rallies such as Charlottesville, which have the greatest potential to provoke and inspire violence.”
The report also noted a spate of killings in 2017 by black nationalists as a possible emerging extremist threat. Black nationalists were responsible for five murders in 2017, and this came on the heels of other violent incidents with black nationalist connections in 2016 and 2014.
ADL recommends a holistic approach to combating the rising tide of extremist violence in America. All civic leaders, from the president to mayors and police chiefs, must use their bully pulpit to speak out against racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry at every opportunity.
In addition, federal and state officials should support properly crafted programs to counter all forms of violent extremism, including that stemming from both international terrorist organizations and domestic extremist movements, or to facilitate people interested in leaving extremist movements. This includes programs to thwart recruitment of disaffected or alienated Americans. And all law enforcement agencies should comprehensively collect and report hate crimes data to the FBI.