Homeland Security

Sharp Rise in Killings by White Supremacists Last Year, Study Finds

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A new study of crime statistics found a variety of perpetrators behind the 34 people killed by extremists in the United States last year, less than half the number of people killed by extremists in 2016 but still the fifth-deadliest year since 1970 for extremist murders.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found white supremacists and other far-right extremists perpetrated 59 percent of all extremist-related killings in 2017, a sharp increase from 20 percent in 2016.

From 2008 to 2017, the study found perpetrators from all streams of right-wing extremists to be responsible for 71 percent of the extremist-perpetrated killings in the United States, followed by Islamic extremists at 26 percent and left-wing extremists, including anarchists and black nationalists, responsible for 3 percent of deaths.

“These findings are a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “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,” he added. “We must tackle them all.”

The deadliest incident of extremist violence last year was the Halloween vehicle attack on a Manhattan bike path by Sayfullo Saipov, who claimed allegiance to ISIS. Eight people were killed.

White supremacists were directly responsible for 18 of the 34 extremist murders last year, the report found, with nine linked to Islamic extremists.

“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.”

In December, a juvenile allegedly shot his girlfriend’s parents to death in Reston, Va., because they had convinced the girl to break up with the boy based on his white supremacist views. Also that month, white supremacist David Atchison killed two at a high school in Aztec, N.M., before killing himself.

In August, Kelly Raisley, believed to be a member or associate of the 211 Crew white supremacist gang, was accused of killing his uncle in Greeley, Colo. That month, white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, was charged with ramming his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killing Heather Heyer.

In Samish Island, Wash., this past July, “alt lite conspiracy theorist” Lane Maurice Davis allegedly killed his father following an argument over Davis’ beliefs. The previous month saw murders from white supremacist prison gang members: Robert Hunt was accused of stabbing to death African-American inmate Jorge Slaughter at the Century Correctional Institution in Florida, while Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe are accused of killing two correctional officers while trying to flee a prison bus in Putnam County Georgia.

The report acknowledged that Jeremy Christian, who espoused right-wing extremist views and also supported Bernie Sanders, was hard to classify. In May, he stabbed to death two men on a Portland train who came to the defense of teen girls, one African-American and the other wearing a hijab, being harassed by Christian.

Also that month, neo-Nazi Atomwaffen member Devon Arthurs allegedly shot to death two of his neo-Nazi roommates for mocking his conversion to Islam. Black nationalist Derick Lamont Brown killed his godfather and himself in Dallas in May, while in April black nationalist Kori Ali Muhammad allegedly killed four people in a Fresno, Calif., shooting spree.

In March, Maryland white supremacist James Harris Jackson, reportedly angered over white women dating African-American men, went to New York and allegedly stabbed to death with a sword a black homeless man. That month, Aryan Circle member Edward Blackburn allegedly shot and killed a man dating his ex-girlfriend in North Judson, Ind.

Frank Ancona, head of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was shot to death in Leadwood, Mo., in February, allegedly by his Klan member wife, Malissa Ancona, and her son. That month, Joshua Andrew Cummings allegedly killed a security guard in Denver; he reportedly claimed allegiance to ISIS later.

In January 2017, Ashton Lucas Lomas, reportedly a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, allegedly robbed and shot to death Martin Gonzales in San Antonio. That month in Lafayette, Ind., white supremacist Wesley Andrew Hampton allegedly robbed and murdered a man in a home invasion.

Last year was a second year in a row with black nationalist murders on record; eight police officers were killed by black nationalists in Dallas and Baton Rogue incidents in 2016. “These incidents represent the most significant black nationalist-related violence since the early 1980s and should be something of a concern as a possible emerging extremist threat, though one that is so far still far smaller than threats posed by right-wing extremists and Islamic extremists,” the ADL said.

The report notes that “almost every year at least one police officer is killed by an extremist” — in 2017, it was the only murder committed by an anti-government extremist. Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore of Broadwater County, Mont., was shot and killed while executing a traffic stop against Lloyd Barrus and his son, Marshall Barrus, who had reportedly talked about a “suicide mission” against cops. Lloyd Barrus had been involved in a California pursuit and shootout more than a decade earlier.