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Rise In White Supremacy Groups Demands Action, Says San Diego Jewish Leader

Photo by Steve Helber AP

Police escort members of the Ku Klux Klan past a large group of protesters last month in Charlottesville, Va. The rally drew about 50 Klan members and about 1,000 counterprotesters.

Rise In White Supremacy Groups Demands Action, Says San Diego Jewish Leader

GUEST:

Tammy Gillies, regional director, Anti-Defamation League in San Diego

Transcript

The white supremacists that marched with torches, carrying Nazi and Confederate flags through the streets of Charlottesville was not an isolated incident, but rather a movement gaining momentum, including in San Diego, said Tammy Gillies, director of the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

“I liken it to somebody taking the lid off of the sewer,” Gillies said. “It’s always been there, this hate, under the surface. But now that lid has been removed and it’s all bubbled up, and what do we as a country do with it now?”

Gillies and other Jewish leaders condemned the violence on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla. The public forum was a call to action to rally against the extremists groups and discuss ways to combat the festering hate.

RELATED: Report: California Hate Groups On The Rise

Photo by Guillermo Sevilla

Tammy Gillies, director of the San Diego chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, talks about the rise of hate groups in San Diego and across the country in the wake of white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Aug. 15, 2017.

Speaking to KPBS News prior to the event, Gillies said the violence in Charlottesville was disheartening and tragic, but not surprising.

“We were expecting it,” Gillies said. “We did do an analysis that this was going to be probably the largest rally that had occurred in the past decade, so we knew it was going to be happening but knowing it and actually seeing it happen … it’s is a little bit heartbreaking.”

Alt-Right groups are building momentum and feeling emboldened by divisive political rhetoric, Gillies said. ADL has documented a spike in the number of white supremacists recruiting on college campuses and holding rallies.

“Last year we had a group, Identity Evropa was here at San Diego State recruiting, and we’re seeing it all over the country,” Gillies said. “Most people don’t think of it as happening in Southern California.”

Identity Evropa, formed in March 2016, is identified by ADL as a racist white supremacist organization that endorses segregation. It was one of the alt-right groups that participated in the violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

California tops the nation for the number of active hate groups, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nearly 80 hate groups operate up and down the state, with most based in Southern California.

In the San Diego area, the report cited five active hate groups: Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, a Holocaust denial group; Nation of Islam, a black separatist group; Sicarii 1715, a black separatist group; As-Sabiqun, a general hate group; and Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, a black separatist group.

San Diego has seen a 33 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, a fourfold increase compared to the same period last year, according to ADL.

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