Last year, hate crimes in the United States reached a 16-year high. The number of white nationalist groups surged nearly 50 percent, growing from 100 chapters in 2017 to 148 in 2018.
"What's even more troubling is that these figures are not comprehensive, and the situation is most likely even worse than the data shows," State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson writes in an article on page 18 of this issue of the Journal. "The FBI does not require state and local police departments or municipalities to report these crimes and most experts agree that many victims often do not file formal complaints."
To examine this important issue, the New York State Bar Association will host an unprecedented panel of legal, national security and other experts entitled, "White Nationalism and Domestic Terrorism in America."
The extraordinary Presidential Summit panel event - a part of NYSBA's weeklong 143rd Annual Meeting at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan - will take place Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The event will be moderated by Craig M. Boise, dean and professor of law at the Syracuse University College of Law.
The panelists are:
• David D. Cole, Esq., national legal director, American Civil Liberties Union
• Frank Figliuzzi, Jr., former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, NBC News/MSNBC national security analyst
• Hon. Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio
• Leonard Zeskind, founder and president, Institute for Research and Education of Human Rights, author of Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream
"With the number of white nationalist groups surging in recent years and violent incidents becoming more and more frequent, law enforcement, our elected officials and the general public must work together to eradicate hate groups from our society," said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. "On behalf of the State Bar Association, it is a great honor as well as an important duty to present such an esteemed panel to lead this timely and vital discussion."
The Presidential Summit is a complimentary program open to all. Annual Meeting participants can receive 2.0 CLE credits. Non-members are welcome, but advance registration is required. For more information, visit http://archive.nysba.org/am2020president.
Leonard Zeskind believes the key factor behind the actions of white nationalists is that the Census Bureau has projected that white people will officially become a minority in a nation of minorities by the middle part of this century.
"I believe that your children and grandchildren will be fighting this fight," said Zeskind, who is profiled on page 22. "And the objective conditions of that battle will depend on what we all do today."
Mayor Whaley of Dayton has confronted these issues in real time. Last May, white supremacists rallied in downtown Dayton. Just over two months later, on Aug. 4, a mass shooting left nine people dead and 17 others wounded. The mayor writes on page 14 in this issue of the Journal that the government needs to do more to combat this growing problem.
"I am proud of how Daytonians have responded to these crises, but I am frustrated that our state and federal governments have not acted to stop them from happening in the first place," said Whaley. "We have seen a frightening national resurgence of white supremacy that has received little condemnation from the highest levels of our federal government."
Law enforcement, however, is paying increased attention to the home-grown extremists, including radicalized white nationalists, who have been responsible for the rising number of hate incidents and mass shootings in the United States.
Furthermore, the desire to keep the public safe also has another side that isn't often discussed - concerns about potential civil liberties violations when law enforcement agencies conduct surveillance of groups and individuals based on their political beliefs and orientations.
The Presidential Summit program will explore this and other relevant issues raised by what the New York Times has referred to as the "white nationalist terrorist problem" that has resulted in a "brand of social media-fueled bloodshed."
We look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting January 27-31, and we encourage you to join us for the Presidential Summit on January 29.