According to the University of Mary Washington and the UMW Campus Police, sometime between February 17th the 18th stickers from a group called the Patriot Front appeared on campus. According to the ADL – Anti-Defamation League, the Patriot Front was founded last year as a “white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it solely to them” and espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ‘ethnic and cultural origins’ of their European ancestors.” This group also participated in the August 12th “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and are known for participating in “localized ‘flash mobs’ and torch marches/demonstrations.”
On Valentine’s Day, Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people, many of them students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Reports now say Cruz was radicalized online and espoused racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic views and displayed an obsession with violence and guns. Jordan Jereb, a captain of the Republic of Florida – a “white separatist paramilitary proto-fascist organization”, claimed that Cruz trained with the group.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “the number of white supremacist murders in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, far surpassing murders committed by domestic Islamic extremists and making 2017 the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence since 1970.” Between 2008-2017, 71% of the 387 extremist-related killings in America were caused by Right-Wing Extremists. While these groups are small, there are working hard to radicalize our youth online and recruit on our college campuses, similarly to how foreign terrorists recruit youth in our country.
Last year, Reuters reported that the Trump Administration wanted to “revamp and rename” the FBI’s program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, and change it to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” and the program “would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism.” According to the Hill, “in the final days of the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant program of $10 million in Countering Violent Extremism funding was awarded to 31 different applicants, including several groups dedicated to combating white supremacy and de-radicalizing neo-Nazis. But the Trump administration froze funding for the grants while it reconsidered the applications.” In the end, “funding was pulled for a total of 12 grant recipients — including $400,000 for a group called Life After Hate, which was one of the only original grant recipients focused on fighting far-right extremism” and a $900,000 grant that would have gone toward the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to counter jihadist and white supremacist recruiting.” We must urge our elected officials on Congress to have better oversight to counter these harmful changes that threaten our national security.
It is time stand up against this epidemic in our nation, to reject hate and fascism. I urge fellow Democrats in the City of Fredericksburg to support the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and to join your local NAACP #7069 chapter to help combat hate in our community. We stand with the University of Mary Washington Young Democrats in denouncing this act of intimidation on their campus.
– Caitlin Durham Bennett, Chair Fredericksburg Democratic Committee