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Texas Led The Nation In Incidents Of White Supremacist Propaganda In 2020, Report Says

Attendees at a rally against white supremacy in front of Austin City Hall on Aug. 19, 2017.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Demonstrators rally against white supremacy in front of Austin City Hall in 2017.

Texas led the country in documented incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2020, according to a report out this week from the Anti-Defamation League. These incidents can range from hate groups recruiting people on the internet to distributing flyers to holding rallies.

There were 574 documented incidents in the state last year. Texas was followed by Washington state, which saw 345 incidents.

Renee Lafair of the ADL's Austin chapter says messaging is often the first step in inspiring racist violence.

"When these attitudes become mainstream, you can see a direct link between what people say and, over time, the hatred manifesting itself and turning into violence," she said. "I mean, we've seen that time and time again."

Austin saw 30 documented incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2020 — that's equal to the previous two years combined.

A single group with roots in Texas was responsible for 80% of these incidents nationwide.

Lafair says that group typically used college campuses to distribute flyers and put up recruitment posters, but she said, with campuses largely empty in 2020, the number of incidents on campuses was half of what it was in 2019.

Nationally, there were more than 5,100 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2020, compared to just 2,700 the year before. Lafair attributes that increase to the proliferation of conspiracy-laden rhetoric surrounding COVID-19 and hate groups' capitalizing on political uncertainty and divisiveness surrounding the 2020 Election for recruitment purposes.

The report comes as the United States is grappling with a steep rise in racist violence and harassment against Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent — and just days after a white man killed 8 people in Atlanta, six of whom were of Asian descent.

If you or anyone you know has experienced racist harassment or violence, you can report it to the city on its website.

Read ADL's full report here.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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