News & Updates

  • Why Some Nonwhite Americans Espouse Right-Wing Extremism

    Posted by · May 31, 2023 8:28 AM

    VOA - It is a growing trend that defies conventional wisdom: Some people of color are joining forces with groups that openly champion right-wing causes, including white supremacy and racism.

    Spurred by shared resentments and hatreds, American Latinos, Blacks and other nonwhites are swelling the ranks of some of America’s right-wing groups in rising numbers.

    The recent mass killing in Texas shone a light on the phenomenon, reigniting a debate about what draws nonwhites to far-right militancy and why extremist groups embrace them.

    Mauricio Garcia, the 33-year-old gunman who killed eight people in Allen, Texas, on May 6, was a Latino who allegedly harbored white supremacist views.

    Police killed Garcia, but he left behind a trove of social media posts that showed his affinity for neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

    In one post, he showed pictures of Nazis and neo-Nazis with swastika flags, calling them “my type of people.” In another, he referred to himself as “a full-blown white supremacist.”

    “We’re going to make America white again,” he bragged in yet another post.

    What led a Latino to embrace white supremacist views? Garcia offered some clues: Referring to his “self-loathing phase,” he ranted against “loser Hispanics” and admitted he once wished he were white “because my own race treats me like [expletive].”

    “This goes to the root of the power of white supremacy: the wish to identify with the racial category that you think is most powerful in the society that you live in,” said Heidi Beirich, a prominent extremism researcher and co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism.

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  • Bystanders booed as the far-right Patriot Front staged a rally in Washington DC to 'reclaim America'

    Posted by · May 17, 2023 8:33 AM

    BusinessInsider - More than a hundred members of a white supremacist group marched in downtown Washington, DC on Saturday evening while chanting "reclaim America," reports say.

    Videos show members of Patriot Front outside the Lincoln Memorial wearing matching outfits of khaki pants, dark blue jackets, and baseball caps.

    Some carried flags, shields, and photographs show one banner reading "victory or death."

    Their faces were obscured mainly by sunglasses and white coverings around their noses and mouths.

    The group's leader Thomas Rousseau gave a speech near the Capitol reflecting pool while bystanders booed, The Daily Beast said.

    "Our demonstrations are an exhibition of our unified capability to organize, to show our strength," Rousseau said, according to the outlet.

    "Not as brawlers or public nuisances, but as men capable of illustrating a message and seeking an America that more closely resembles the interests of its true people."

    On Saturday, police closely monitored the scene in case of violence, but the march ended without incident, The Daily Beast reported.

    At the end of the protest, two dozen members were stranded as all could not fit in a U-Haul van rented to transport them to and from the rally, The Daily Beast said.

    Many waited by the side of the road for hours as the vehicle made several trips, the outlet said. 

    According to The Anti-Defamation League, Patriot Front members believe that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it.

    The group espouses "racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ethnic and cultural origins of their European ancestors," the organization said.

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  • Arrest made in SF Muni egg hate crime attack caught on video

    Posted by · May 10, 2023 9:08 AM

    KRON4 - An arrest has now been made in what authorities investigated the Feb. 16 incident that happened around 9:30 a.m. as a hate crime. Joseph Benjamin, 44, was arrested last Friday, the San Francisco Police Department announced Thursday in a press release.

    One of the victims was Michelle Young. “So he said stupid Chinese ****h and then I believe he repeated himself and we didn’t respond,” Young, who was visiting San Francisco, told KRON4.

    According to SFPD, Benjamin is believed to have been involved in at least two more incidents on Muni — making it a total of three he is linked to.

    Another Muni rider says Benjamin threw food at her back last December. The victim also claims the suspect made derogatory comments about her ethnicity and gender.

    SFPD also reported on Feb. 13 a Muni driver was assaulted. The driver told police one of his passengers was spit on and used “threatening language,” the press release said. The driver, an Asian man, told the suspect to leave the bus, and the suspect spewed hateful language and spit on him before fleeing the scene.

    Benjamin was arrested over two months later in the Tenderloin on the 500 block of Jones Street. He was booked into San Francisco County Jail on two counts of battery committed against a transportation worker or passenger and two counts of hate crime– all misdemeanors.

    Benjamin is also charged with three counts of violation of individuals’ civil rights.

    As of Thursday afternoon, Benjamin is out of custody following an arrangement earlier that day, according to SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. Benjamin is required to stay away from the victims and the 38 and 38R Muni bus lines.

    Jenkins said the suspect faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

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  • Hate crimes will spike around the 2024 presidential election, civil rights group warns

    Posted by · April 26, 2023 8:58 AM

    USAToday - FBI data shows an "unmistakable pattern" of reported hate crimes spiking during presidential elections, according to a new report.

    Data going back to 2008 reveals increases in hate crimes against racial groups around general elections, according to the report from the Leadership Conference Education Fund, a national civil rights group.

    "What it shows is an extremely disturbing and sadly not so surprising trend," said the fund's CEO, Maya Wiley.

    Since 2015, hate crimes have increased at a staggering rate of more than 80%, the report found.

    The data also showed 2021 had the highest number of reported hate crimes on record since the FBI began publishing data in 1991.

    Authors of the report issue a stark warning that "there are few – if any – signs that tensions will lessen."

    The report says that in 2023, the U.S. is "rife with opportunities" for increased hate crimes to continue into the 2024 election, which will see Donald Trump run for president again.

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    Posted by · April 12, 2023 11:20 AM

    Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history in schools would be a game changer.

    By Kenny Nguyen, Director of Youth Programs, Education Policy Center

    My family came to the United States as refugees from Vietnam. In school, the only time I was taught about my history was during a lesson about the Vietnam War. During this segment — as one of the few Asian students in my school and the only Vietnamese person in my class — I felt everyone’s eyes focusing on me. I can’t recall what exactly was being said about the war, but it was maybe only the second time anything related to Asian American history was taught in my class.  

    During the lesson, my peers didn’t truly get a sense of me or my family’s history and, even worse, neither did I. Sadly, I’m one of many millions of students in the United States who barely see themselves reflected in the classroom.  

    Thankfully, things are starting to change. In New York City, Asian American and Pacific Islander curriculum — which was taught in about a dozen schools last fall — will expand across the public school system in 2024. This September, the City will pilot a Black studies curriculum in social studies in a handful of classrooms before expanding across all grades. There is momentum to ensure that students see themselves in curricula, something the younger version of myself would have greatly appreciated.  

    This momentum is critical because the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States. There are 20.6 million people who identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone (not in combination with another race), making up six percent of the nation’s population, according to the 2020 Census. We make up at least 10 percent of the New York State population. Yet, our state’s social studies standards only scratch the surface of AANHPI history.

    There is legislation at the state level – sponsored by Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Grace Lee – that seeks to change that. At a time when more than 40 states have introduced or passed laws to restrict how issues of race and racism are taught, New York should join Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey to mandate inclusive history and social studies. 

    The legislation would require public K-12 schools to provide instruction on AANHPI history and civic impact. Specifically, it would highlight the history of the diaspora of the AANHPI community in New York and the Northeast; the movement and policies that brought AANHPI communities to the United States; the contributions made by the AANHPI community in government, the arts, humanities, science, and the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States; and the structures and historical events that have limited or harmed the AANHPI community.

    Importantly, the curriculum would also cover the bond between the AANHPI community and other historically marginalized communities, especially as it pertains to the civil rights movement.

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  • Majority of Americans reject anti-trans bills, but support for this restriction is rising

    Posted by · March 29, 2023 8:36 AM

    PBS - A majority of Americans oppose restrictions on LGBTQ+ people, yet the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll shows support for such laws is growing as many Republican state and local lawmakers pursue hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights around the country.

    Forty-three percent of Americans now say they support laws that criminalize the act of providing gender-transition-related medical care to minors, according to the latest poll, marking a 15-percentage point increase since April 2021. About half of Americans — 54 percent — say they oppose such laws.

    “It’s promising to see a majority of Americans oppose these dangerous, misguided bills targeting the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender young people, at a time when we’re witnessing nonstop anti-trans political attacks and irresponsible news coverage across both mainstream and right-wing outlets,” said Jonah DeChants, senior research scientist at The Trevor Project, in a written statement to the PBS NewsHour.

    So far in this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers have introduced 434 bills that restrict fundamentals like health care, education and the freedom of expression for LGBTQ+ people, and are concentrated across Southern states, according to analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union. Most bills have advanced to committee and nearly two dozen have passed into law. That overall tally is up from last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, when 315 bills were introduced.

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    Posted by · March 19, 2023 8:54 AM

    SPLC - Two years ago today, eight people – six of whom were women of Asian descent – were murdered by a gunman who attacked three spas in Atlanta.

    On this second anniversary of the shootings, the Southern Poverty Law Center joins community leaders at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta to reverently remember the lives taken in that act of hate-inspired violence and to remember that their loss is felt deeply by their families and communities.

    As we reflect on the pain and loss that continues to reverberate from that day, we remain steadfast in the pursuit of racial, economic, gender and social justice. In chorus with Advancing Justice-Atlanta, we seek safety, not surveillance; opportunity, not incarceration; and healing, not policing.

    But much work remains to be done.

    Recently updated FBI hate crime statistics show that there were 789 attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in 2021, the same year the Atlanta shootings took place. That number was almost 500 more hate crimes – a 168% increase – over the 2020 figures and, by far, the highest number of reported hate crimes against AAPI community members and institutions since the FBI data collection program began in 1991.

    In the year following the attack in Atlanta, Stop AAPI Hate documented nearly 5,000 hate incidents targeting the AAPI community. The group’s data collection from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2022, showed that female, nonbinary or LGBTQ+ individuals are often targeted for the multiple immutable characteristics they embody. At least 63% of the 11,467 incidents recorded from March 2020 to March 2022 were reported by individuals from those gender identities and sexual orientations.

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  • Neo-Nazi Groups Organizing Antisemitic 'National Day of Hate

    Posted by · March 01, 2023 9:29 AM

    Newsweek - Neo-Nazi groups across the United States are planning a national "Day of Hate" against Jewish communities on Saturday, according to antisemitism watchdogs and police documents.

    A leaked internal memo by the New York City Police Department's Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau, online organizers are "instructing likeminded individuals to drop banners, place stickers and flyers, or scrawl graffiti as a form of biased so-called action."

    Jewish groups and police urged Jews to remain vigilant during the Sabbath. There will be additional patrols around synagogues in New York and New Jersey.

    Researchers at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an international policy organization, said on Thursday that extremist groups had been promoting the day of action through Telegram posts, and identified the National Socialist Movement as one of the organizers.

    According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the National Socialist Movement is the largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S., though it has experienced a decline in membership in recent years. It is currently led by Burt Colucci.

    The group was behind the recent neo-Nazi demonstration at the opening of Parade, a Broadway show about a Jewish man who was lynched, the CEP said. It stated that two regional chapters in Iowa and California, as well as a small group in New York, were planning to participate in the Day of Hate.

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  • Inside the intense pressure facing Black police chiefs across the US

    Posted by · February 09, 2023 8:59 AM

    Black police chiefs face intense pushback from officers as they press for reform and anger from citizens scarred by a history of mistreatment by police.

    USAToday - John Drake remembers disliking the police during his youth in Nashville, Tennessee. One of his earliest interactions with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department was being falsely accused of the brutal rape of an 89-year-old woman, despite bearing little resemblance to the description of the assailant.

    Drake is now chief of that same police department. And his story is similar to those of other Black police leaders.

    Daniel Hahn, the former police chief in Sacramento, California, grew up in the city’s impoverished Oak Park neighborhood and was arrested at 16 years old. He said it was for assaulting an officer. He didn’t hate police, he said, but when he was in college, he brushed off police recruiters multiple times.

    Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said becoming a police officer had never seemed like a possibility to him because there were so few people of color in the department. In 1995, a few years after he joined the force in Boston, Cox was beaten by fellow officers who mistook him for a suspect, an incident that was covered up until Cox won more than $1 million in a civil rights lawsuit.

    Despite such negative encounters, all three men persevered to lead law enforcement in their hometowns.

    “My upbringing prepared me for all of it,” Hahn said. “It gave me perspective and gave me compassion. I’m in both worlds and so I can understand fully.”

    Drake and Cox agree that their racial identity informs their work as they take on the challenge of repairing police relationships with communities of color. Still, many Black police chiefs face say they intense pushback from their own officers as they press for reform, and often see anger directed at them from citizens scarred by a history of mistreatment at the hands of police — tensions again inflamed by the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis in 2020 and subsequent nationwide protests for social justice.

    “I was supposed to solve all the world’s issues, at least the Black issues, with the snap of my finger,” said Hahn, who led the Sacramento department during the protests over the killing of Stephon Clark by police in that city in 2018. “I’d be called a coon, a sellout, Uncle Tom by the Black community. I’d be discriminated against in many different ways by non-Black communities.”

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  • California reels from back-to-back shootings that killed 18

    Posted by · January 25, 2023 10:33 AM

    Reuters - A deadly gun rampage at northern California mushroom farms likely stemmed from a workplace grievance, authorities said on Tuesday, as new details emerged about the latest of two back-to-back mass shootings that claimed 18 lives in total.

    In apparently unrelated acts of mass murder, 7 people were killed on Monday in an attack on farm workers, many of them immigrants, in the seaside town of Half Moon Bay near San Francisco while 11 people were shot to death on Saturday night at a Los Angeles-area dance hall frequented mostly by older patrons of Asian descent.

    The suspects in both attacks were men of retirement age, much older than typical perpetrators of deadly mass shootings that have become all too common in the United States.

    Authorities said the two men, Huu Can Tran, 72, and Chunli Zhao, 66, each used a semi-automatic pistol. The victims of both attacks came from immigrant communities. Tran fired on ballroom dancers celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park near Los Angeles, and Zhao sprayed bullets at farm workers of Hispanic and Asian origin 380 miles (610 km) north in Half Moon Bay.

    Tran tried to attack a second dance studio on Saturday night but was disarmed without firing a shot in a struggle with the club's operator. The next morning, he shot himself to death in the driver's seat of his getaway vehicle as police closed in.

    Zhao was arrested on Monday evening outside a sheriff's station where authorities said he had driven shortly after the Half Moon Bay shootings, apparently to surrender.

    As of Tuesday, authorities said they had yet to determine precisely what sparked either shooting. Circumstances surrounding the Half Moon Bay carnage pointed to some type of work-related disgruntlement, officials said.

    "All of the evidence we have points to this being the instance of workplace violence," San Mateo Sheriff Christina Corpus told reporters on Tuesday. She said Zhao had been employed at Mountain Mushroom Farm, one of two sites he is accused of attacking. The other, Concord Farms, is about a mile (1.6 km) away.

    That theory seemed buttressed by court records, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, showing that a restaurant co-worker had obtained a restraining order against Zhao after accusing Zhao of assault and death threats, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The court order is no longer in effect.

    San Mateo County jail records showed Zhao was booked on suspicion of premeditated murder, attempted murder and firearms offenses. He was expected to be formally charged on Wednesday, when he was due to make his first court appearance in Redwood City.

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