A new report by the Anti-Defamation League claims that extremism and antisemitism in Florida are on the rise.
The ADL is an organization aimed at stopping the defamation of Jewish people and identifying anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, according to its website.
Ben Popp, an investigative researcher with the ADL, said extremist-related incidents nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021.
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“Obviously very alarming to see this sort of hate exist in their area,” Popp said.
The ADL reports extremist-related incidents as cases in which bigotry is identified, such as handing out anti-Semitic fliers or vandalizing property with anti-Semitic symbols.
Popp said it needs to be stopped before it becomes normalized.
The ADL released the report so that people will understand the threat facing them and better advocate in their community.
In 2020, the ADL Center on extremism reported 121 incidents compared to 207 incidents in 2021.
“We’ve seen from 2020 to 2021 a 71% increase in extremist-related incidents in the state,” Popp said.
“I think it’s a telling sign of how we need to work harder to combat these kinds of ideologies in our communities,” Popp said.
In January, two communities in Brevard County woke up to their front yards and driveways littered with anti-Semitic flyers.
A month later, deputies arrested two men during a Nazi rally near Waterford Lakes after they allegedly attacked a Jewish University of Central Florida student. According to the Orange County Clerk’s website, the two men have hearings scheduled in October.
“Anytime this ideology leads to violence is definitely [a] cause for concern. It’s something we’re always monitoring,” Popp said.
He could not provide an exact number, but Popp said the number of hate groups in the sunshine state is increasing.
The ADL reported several different extremist groups with ties to Florida, such as the anti-Semitic Goyim Defense League, White supremacist Proud Boys and Black supremacist Black Hebrew Israelites.
While the ADL stressed the importance of recognizing the increase in extremist-related incidents, the FBI has reported an overall decrease in Florida hate crimes since 2000.
The ADL is urging elected officials, community leaders, law enforcement, educators and residents to take action and address the hate here in Florida.
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