Attorney General alarmed by ‘White Supremacy’ report’s findings

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced July 10 the release of a report examining white supremacy in New Jersey. The Report, titled “Exposing White Supremacy in New Jersey,” analyzes the rise in white supremacist recruitment and violence and the painful and profound impact white supremacy has on targeted communities, especially on young people.

In the wake of a significant spike in bias incidents across the country, the report calls on members of the community to oppose and confront white supremacy and outlines best practices for the community to combat white supremacy and prevent white supremacist radicalization.

The report is based on DCR’s findings following virtual public-listening sessions with members of the public that sought to gauge the impact of white supremacy in New Jersey and after Platkin hosted a statewide summit on combatting bias, hate and violence in June 2022. Hundreds of community members, including academic experts on white supremacy, took part in the listening sessions and the summit.

 The report builds on the findings of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness’s most recent terrorism threat assessment, which rated the threat presented by white supremacist violent extremists as “high” for the third year in a row.

“Every New Jerseyan deserves to live, study and worship without fear for their safety,”  Governor Philip D. Murphy said. “Hate of any kind or form has no room to exist in our state and I am grateful to Attorney General Platkin and director Iyer for their continued efforts to expose the scourge that is white supremacy and the tactics used to target the diverse communities of our state. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation — a title we hold dearly — and this administration remains steadfastly committed to protecting the residents of those communities.”

The report examines the full spectrum of bias-based behavior – including biased attitudes, acts of bias, systemic discrimination and white supremacist physical violence and terrorism – that results from a belief white people are superior to others.

As the report explains, white supremacy targets a wide range of communities: white supremacists have sought to inflict harm on Blacks, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Asians, Latinos, other non-whites and LGBTQIA+ people.

The report underscores the impact of white supremacy, highlighting the toxic stress and mental health harms that acts of white supremacy inflict on impacted communities — not only through physical violence, but through the daily acts of white supremacy to which they are regularly subjected.

The Report also notes white supremacists have, for decades, attempted to infiltrate institutions of public trust and obtain positions of authority in government, where they have attempted to misuse their authority to mistreat Black people and members of other targeted communities. The report further examines the tactics white supremacists have used to normalize hatred, including the use of social media and other online platforms to spread hateful and violent messages.

 “It’s past time that we eradicate hate, bias and extremism in New Jersey,” Platkin said. “Today’s report is a call to action for every single one of us. We cannot afford to ignore the ugly scourge of bigotry, racism and violence that white supremacy breeds. Make no mistake, my office will use every tool at its disposal to root out hate, dismantle white supremacy and keep our residents and communities safe.”

The report, which echoes the findings of a report issued in 2020 by New Jersey’s Interagency Task Force to Combat Youth Bias, notes white supremacists often recruit young people, especially youth. This recruitment often occurs online, via multiplayer gaming, online message boards, social media and other internet forums. The report also explains educating young people to help them avoid recruitment attempts is a key factor in eradicating white supremacy.

The report, meanwhile, includes a list of best practices all community members may use to help dismantle white supremacy, including:

  • Listen to and learn from the experiences of those targeted by white supremacy – especially people of color.
  • Do not contribute to the normalization of hate.
  • Proactively discuss race and racism with children.
  • Educate white children on how to avoid recruitment.
  • Recognize the risks for, and signs of, radicalization, and intervene early if you see them.
  • Equip nonwhite children and adults with resources and support systems for coping with white supremacy.

In furtherance of its efforts to promote racial equity and trust in government, in 2021, the OAG launched an initiative geared toward using the existing authorities of its divisions and offices to promote racial justice. Projects created under the Racial Justice Initiative continue to combat bias, discrimination and hate. This year, Platkin directed all divisions and offices in OAG to join in “do[ing] everything we can to strengthen public confidence and restore trust in our governmental institutions.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.