White supremacist propaganda incidents surge in New York: Anti-Defamation League

Panelists at an Anti-Defamation League conference
Panelists at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never is Now summit held this month to combat antisemitism.
Barbara Russo

The production and circulation of white supremacist propaganda soared to a record high in 2023, a new report released on Tuesday from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows.

In its annual assessment on white supremacist propaganda, the ADL reported an astounding increase of such incidents in 2023, even reaching historic levels across New York and nationwide. 

These incidents come in the form of lawn signs made to resemble advertisements, fliers scattered throughout downtown areas, graffiti, signs and more that all have hateful messaging in common. 

Most of the recorded propaganda in this year’s ADL report zeroes in on the Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. 

In New York state alone, the ADL documented 356 of these incidents, resulting in an astounding 189% increase last year compared to 2022. 

There is a profound increase going back in time, with only 20 incidents of white supremacist propaganda recorded in 2017 followed by a dramatic jump to 308 incidents in 2020 within the state, according to the ADL. 

“That is explosive growth. That to me is the most telling statistic,” said Scott Richman, ADL New York/New Jersey regional director. “It’s clear that these groups have found this to be effective in terms of getting their message out and in terms of recruitment.”

Collage of white supremacist propaganda posters
A collage of white supremacist propaganda posters that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) obtained.Anti-Defamation League

ADL: Hate groups feeling ’emboldened’

Richman explained that more than ever, hate groups are feeling free to spread their messages, almost any time, any where. 

“These extremist groups are feeling emboldened to act in a way that in the past perhaps there was some sort of social censure that kept them in check,” he explained. 

Some hate groups appear to be more active than others.

According to the ADL, the National Justice Party (NJP), based out of New York, was responsible for a whopping 76% of the 356 propaganda incidents. The ADL also reported that the NJP launched “an aggressive propaganda campaign” in 2023, adding that the group was responsible for roughly 25% of total propaganda activity across the country last year. 

“They specifically target Jews,” Richman said. “They’re antisemitic and blame Jews for all the ills of society.” 

Propaganda, as described by the ADL, allows white supremacists to maximize media and online attention while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative coverage and public backlash. 

On the rise since Oct. 7

Antisemitism has been on the rise nationwide since the terror group, Hamas, brutally attacked the Israeli people, according to the ADL and many other groups that track hate incidents. 

Antisemitic propaganda increased by 30% in 2023, rising to 1,112 incidents from 852 in 2022 according to the report. The increase was largely due to the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, reincorporating antisemitic phrases into their propaganda, ADL officials explained. 

“As we witness historic levels of antisemitic incidents globally and here in New York and New Jersey, we are dismayed, yet not surprised, to see a parallel rise in white supremacist propaganda in our region, especially against the Jewish community,” Richman said. 

Attacks against the LGBTQ+ community

The ADL report saw an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda from white supremacists, too. Last year saw a 141% increase, jumping from 68 incidents in 2022 to 165 in 2023. 

“White supremacist propaganda allows a small number of people to have an outsized impact,” Richman said.  Its message of hate terrorizes entire communities, including the Black, Muslim, LGBTQ+, Asian and Jewish communities. We must unite against this growing threat and make it clear that these white supremacist groups and their hate have no place in our communities.”

In 2023, white supremacist propaganda was reported in the District of Columbia and every U.S. state except Hawaii and Alaska, with the highest levels of activity in Virginia, Texas, California, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland and North Carolina, according to the ADL. 

For more information about the ADL’s report, visit adl.org