White supremacy extremists are increasingly targeting New York City with their hateful rhetoric and ideology, according to the New York Police Department — a rise undergirded by online forums where such ideology is fueled, counterterrorism officials say.
“What we’re seeing is an increase in the level of chatter, the number of platforms, the pitch and tone of the vitriol and the forums to share that in, where these individuals cannot just share ideas but also can churn and stir and whip each other up,” John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism told The City.
Those online discussions are entering the real world as well, with xenophobic posters showing up in immigrant neighborhoods and real-world threats to non-white people’s safety.
White nationalist Garrett Kelsey made threats by phone and email after a Jewish group in New York City released a video “calling on Sweden to crack down on a Nordic neo-Nazi group that wants to end all non-white immigration into that country.”
Kelsey left the group a profanity-laden voicemail that invoked the Holocaust.
In a subsequent email, the white nationalist gave the group three days to remove the video post “and offer an apology to the Asatru community or we will be taking action against your organization full of degenerates.”
Kelsey was arrested by the NYPD and FBI last month at his Iowa home, charged with one count of making an interstate threat, and is currently out on $50,000 bond.
He told The City that people like himself “are just people who want to do what everyone in the world wants to do, which is to protect your ethnic heritage.”
In light of the increase in such incidents, the NYPD has “added analysts and investigators to track the white nationalist chatter and stay ahead of the curve of any potential attacks,” Miller said.
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force’s caseload has risen almost 50 percent so far this year: “Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 4, the task force opened 249 cases, up from 169 during the same period last year.”
While white supremacists could target communities closer to their own homes, many take aim at New York City because of its diversity and greater chance for news coverage, officials said.
“It’s just a matter of objectively reading who we are as a city,” said Alex Rosemberg, the Anti-Defamation League’s community affairs director. “There’s always a fear that someone is going to choose [New York] because of the diversity of the city and the symbolism of the city.”