The violence and hate on display at the Aug. 12 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, by white supremacists serves as a somber reminder of the existence of hate groups in Arizona.
“The reality is that there are white supremacy and extreme groups in Arizona and they have a singular agenda,” said Carlos Galindo-Elvira, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Arizona region. “There are different groups but they also have one thing in common — hate.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are currently 917 hate groups operating in the U.S. Eighteen are in Arizona and include white nationalist groups, neo-Nazis, anti-Muslim groups, black separatists, anti-immigrant groups, anti-LGBT groups and racist skinheads.
The ADL has monitored and tracked hate groups throughout the United States for decades, and Galindo-Elvira said the same monitoring is taking place locally.
His advice to concerned community members is to be vigilant and join ADL in its efforts to combat hate.
“If you see something, say something — please contact the ADL,” he said.
Hateful flyers found at ASU
On the first day of classes at Arizona State University on Aug. 17, flyers with hateful messages were found on kiosks on the campus.
“Welcome to College, White Boys and Girls!” one flyer read. “For the next four years, your Cultural Marxist professors will beat you over the head with shame and guilt to convince you that you are second-class citizens. Wrong! Your ancestors built this country! It’s your turn to preserve and defend it! Start taking some pride in who you are!”
Galindo-Elvira commended the swift action by campus leadership in removing the messages.
Teens plead guilty to menorah vandalism
Three teens who were involved in damaging a large menorah made out of PVC pipes that was on display in the front yard of a Chandler home in December 2016 pled guilty to criminal damage last week. hree teens who were involved in damaging a large menorah made out of PVC pipes that was on display in the front yard of a Chandler home in December 2016 pled guilty to criminal damage last week.On the morning of Dec. 25, the first day of Chanukah, a board member of Temple Beth Shalom and the Jewish Community Center of the Northwest Valley in Sun City noticed deep tire marks next to the synagogue’s large outdoor menorah. It appeared that a truck had rammed into the base. Two of the outside arms of the menorah were twisted downward. The vandals also kicked over the synagogue’s Holocaust memorial, yanking out electrical wires and bending the copper that had names of concentration camps on it. There have been no arrests in the case. The plea was reached in agreement with the victims. According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the teens, who were charged as juveniles, must perform 30 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the victims and pay restitution. Additionally, each of the teens must meet face to face with a Holocaust survivor and then write a 10-page essay on the lessons learned from the Holocaust and how their actions have impacted the community.
“In seeking justice for all through responsible application of the law, sometimes that means employing innovative strategies when imposing consequences,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery in an Aug. 17 news release. “This crime impacted the victims, their community and, in fact, many around the world. It also presented us with an opportunity to have a positive impact on young lives and create healing through education and understanding.”
Montgomery added, “At this point in our nation’s history and mindful of recent events, it is important to be reminded that every generation has a responsibility to engage in the process of teaching civic virtue to each succeeding generation and the meaning of what it is to be an American.”
ADL, mayors plan to fight extremism, bigotry
On Aug. 18, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the ADL announced a new joint plan to fight extremism and bigotry and promote justice and equality in response to the hate and violence in Charlottesville. So far, more than 200 mayors from across the country have pledged to implement the plan.
Arizona mayors who have signed the “Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry” include Coral Evans of Flagstaff, John Giles of Mesa, Georgia Lord of Goodyear, Mark Mitchell of Tempe, Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson and Greg Stanton of Phoenix.
Individuals, groups rally against hate
At press time, several rallies were planned in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s visit to Phoenix. Several Jewish organizations, including the ADL, the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Arizona Jews for Justice, the Jewish Law Students Association and the Jewish Community Relations Council, were expected to participate in the “Never Again: Jews and Allies Against Hate Rally” organized by Tempe City Councilman David Schapira and state Sen. Robert Meza. They were scheduled to meet at the state capitol hours before Trump’s campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday.
Thousands of people were expected to participate in protests outside the convention center. Phoenix Mayor Stanton announced his disappointment with Trump’s decision to hold a campaign rally in Phoenix so soon after the events in Charlottesville. Gov. Doug Ducey also was not expected to attend Trump’s rally. Visit jewishaz.com for updates on Trump’s visit.
To report an incident to ADL, visit adl.org/report-an-incident. JN
Leisah Woldoff is a freelance writer based in Phoenix.