ADL Reports Resurgence of Racist Skinheads in U.S. and Launches New Online Racist Skinhead Project
New York, NY, February 7, 2006 … The United States has seen a "significant and troubling" resurgence of racist skinhead activity, with a rise in the number of organized racist skinhead groups as well as a rise in the number of unaffiliated racist skinheads, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
In a new report issued today, ADL warns that racist skinhead activity in the U.S. is rising, with active groups or individuals identifying themselves as racist skinheads in nearly all states in the country.
The League has launched an online Racist Skinhead Project at www.adl.org/racist_skinheads, which tracks activity by state and region, while noting that the substantial increase in the number of active racist skinheads in the U.S. has accompanied a rise in violent hate crimes carried out by racist skinheads against Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, and immigrants.
"Racist skinhead activity occurs in every state of the country, even where organized groups are not present," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "It is a fluid movement in which skinheads do not necessarily belong to a particular group. Viewed as a whole, the resurgence in activity by racist skinheads is significant and troubling. The Internet provides a borderless universe for recruitment and organizing, and racist skinhead groups have taken advantage of the technology to spread their hate through cyberspace and in the real world."
The Racist Skinhead Project encompasses ADL's ongoing monitoring of racist skinhead activity and trends. Information on new groups and developments, as well as criminal incidents, will be made available and kept current on the League's Web site.
Movement Appeals to Disaffected Youth
The ADL report cites several factors for the resurgence in racist skinhead activity:
- Alienated white youth have found a welcome reception on the Internet from white supremacists hungry for new recruits. The Internet has made it very easy for young people to be exposed to the online message forums and social networking Web sites prevalent in the racist skinhead subculture;
- The white power music industry, around which the racist skinhead subculture revolves and which has experienced a substantial growth in online promotion and sales;
- Racist skinhead groups such as Hammerskin Nation and Blood & Honor have expanded globally, using the Internet to create a network of international white supremacist sites and giving haters in different parts of the country – indeed, the world – the ability to connect online;
- Less competition from the major established white supremacist groups, whose activity has diminished due to the arrests or deaths of leaders and serious factional infighting.
Racist Skinheads by the Numbers
ADL's report identifies 110 racist skinhead groups, the majority of which did not exist five years ago. Of these, some are already defunct or reforming as new groups, which is common as the movement is fluid. Also, not all groups are equal – one may have five members, while another may have hundreds.
Racist skinhead groups and individuals have been involved in at least 83 criminal incidents in the past several years, with the vast majority being hate crimes against Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. Although some of the criminal incidents involve minor crimes, there have been 17 incidents involving charges of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter. Racist skinheads have been behind several attempted acts of terrorism; for example, in 2005 a racist skinhead was convicted for plotting to firebomb an Oklahoma City synagogue.
Racist Skinhead Activity by State/Region
While unaffiliated racist skinhead activity occurs in every state in the country, even where organized groups are not present, the report identifies several states and regions as having a high level of racist skinhead groups and/or criminal activity:
- California: The state of California has a large number of racist skinhead groups, a sizable racist skinhead population, considerable interplay between racist skinheads and prison gangs, a large amount of skinhead-related violence, and a very active hate music scene in southern California, especially Orange County.
- Arizona: Arizona has had a considerable amount of racist skinhead activity, including four recent murders. Among skinheads active in Arizona are many hardcore racists.
- The Midwest: Ohio, Indiana and Illinois have experienced a considerable growth in skinhead activity in the past five years.
- Pennsylvania: Home to one of the most active skinhead groups, the Keystone State Skinheads.
- New Jersey: A large number of racist skinhead groups are active in New Jersey, including the Atlantic City Skinheads, the East Coast Hate Crew and the Eastern Hammerskins.
- Connecticut: What began as a small collection of racist skinheads in Stratford has grown into the largest and most active extremist group in the state. Known as the Connecticut White Wolves, the group describes itself as a "white nationalist skinhead organization" and promotes an ideology espousing hatred of Jews and racial and ethnic minorities.
- Oregon and Washington: Both states are traditional racist skinhead strongholds.
ADL notes that not every skinhead is a racist. There are many non-racist or even anti-racist skinheads in the U.S.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.