White supremacist extremists (WSEs) view the white race as superior to all others and seek to establish dominance over non-whites and minorities through intimidation and violence.
WSEs are anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority. Subcultures include neo-Nazis, Skinheads, prison gangs, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
WSE groups seek to preserve white identity and culture. They exploit first amendment protections to push propaganda in speeches, rallies, and leafletting.
Social media platforms enable WSEs to spread messages and recruit supporters. WSE groups have actively recruited young, educated individuals on the Internet and college campuses.
Popular internet platforms include the DailyStormer and Gab because they do not limit or censor content. Several domain servers have temporarily removed these uncensored websites from the surface web, but they are currently operational.
Currently, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies 601 anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, and white nationalist groups in the United States—with 29 in Virginia, 11 in Maryland, and 17 in DC.
According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), in 2012-17, white extremists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semitic extremists, and the KKK conducted 24 attacks nationwide, 14 of which took place in 2017.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) analysis of hate crime data shows 10 white supremacist extremist murders or terror attacks/plots in 2018. The same study shows 1,274 incidents of white supremacist propaganda occurred in 49 states—including Virginia, DC, and Maryland.
National Capital Region (NCR) Perspective: Virginia, Maryland, and DC
Since 2017, WSEs in the NCR have committed violence, spread propaganda, and used intimidation tactics on minority populations. In 2018, constitutionally protected events were held in the area, including the “White Civil Rights Rally” on August 12—one year after the clashes in Charlottesville—where roughly 20 protesters assembled in DC to challenge alleged “civil rights abuses.”
In December 2017, Nicholas Giampa, affiliated with the Atomwaffen Division, killed his girlfriend’s parents in Herndon, Virginia. The victims tried to break up their relationship after discovering the boy’s white supremacist beliefs.
In May 2017, Sean Urbanski was charged with first-degree murder and hate crimes after stabbing a black man at the University of Maryland, in College Park. Authorities said Urbanski followed the Facebook page “Alt-Reich:Nation.”
In 2017, multiple nooses and Confederate flag posters adorned with cotton were found on the campus of American University in DC. Some objects had the letters AKA written on them, referring to a sorority whose membership is predominately African-American.
Gab: Extremist Network
Gab, the “free speech platform,” is an online haven for WSEs. Roughly 450,000 members are registered there.
On October 27, Robert Bowers killed 11 and injured seven at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers was active on Gab and his last post prior to the attack stated, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
On November 9, Jeffrey Clark of Washington DC was arrested on weapons charges after family members alerted the FBI of his increasingly violent views following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and his brother’s suicide. Clark and his brother attended the United the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Clark was active on Gab and was “friends” with Robert Bowers prior to the shooting, posting on Gab that Pittsburgh victims “deserved it” and Bowers was a “hero.”