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Mass. among states with most white supremacist propaganda in 2021, the ADL says

The Bay State saw 271 incidents involving hateful messaging in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Vandalism at the Jewish cemetery on McMahon Street, seen Monday, March 18, 2019, in Fall River. Herald News Photo/Jack Foley via AP

Massachusetts was the fourth most targeted state in the country by white supremacist propaganda last year as distribution remained at historic highs nationally, a new report from the Anti-Defamation League found.

There were 271 incidents of hateful propaganda reported in the Bay State in 2021 — significantly higher than other states in the ADL’s New England region.

Vermont reported 80 incidents, Rhode Island reported 76, New Hampshire recorded 38, and Maine saw 20, according to the ADL’s regional office.

The report, with cases compiled by the ADL’s Center on Extremism, found there were at least 12 known white supremacist groups behind the messaging in the five states. Texas-based Patriot Front and the locally-based National Socialist Club were the most active groups.

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According to Robert Trestan, ADL New England’s regional director, propaganda — which includes fliers, stickers, posters, banners, and graffiti — “accelerates retruitment efforts and spreads fear” by targeting specific groups, including Jewish, Black, LGBTQ+, and Muslim communities, and non-white immigrants.

“The efforts that these groups unleash to garner exposure for their twisted cause is staggering,” Trestan said in a statement. “They go from community to community, state to state, hoping to lure new members. Their message is often intentionally disguised, intended to inspire and incite people to act, thus creating the potential for increased hate crimes. This trend is alarming and must be stopped.”

Nationally, the ADL recorded a total of 4,851 cases of hateful propaganda in 2021 — nearly double the 2,724 incidents tracked in 2019, according to the organization.

Last year’s total represented a slight decline over 2020, when 5,125 cases across the United States were recorded — an all-time high since the ADL began recording such instances. However, there was a 27 percent increase in specifically anti-Semitic messaging in 2021 over the prior year, the ADL reported.

On average, there were 13 incidents per day across the country.

The top five states that saw the most activity were Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts, and Washington.

Trestan encouraged the public to report incidents to the ADL online at www.adl.org/reportincident.

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