According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map, at least two hate groups were active in Santa Monica in 2016.
The Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi website that was recently taken down by its domain host GoDaddy, and the Counter Jihadist Coalition of Southern California are both identified as having had activity in Santa Monica in the past year.
“We listed The Daily Stormer and its affiliated ‘Book Clubs,’ or local meet ups, as hate group chapters in 2016 based on their own accounts of meetings that took place across the country,” a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center said in an email. According to the SPLC’s Hate Map, the Daily Stormer is headquartered in Worthington, Ohio.
More details were unavailable at the time of publication and the Daily Stormer website has since been removed from the Internet following a posting insulting Heather Heyer, the activist who was killed this week when a man drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. The driver is allegedly affiliated with white supremacist groups. Heyer was there counter-protesting against white nationalists gathered to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The Hate Map lists the Counter Jihadist Coalition of Southern California as having its headquarters in Santa Monica. While the organization’s website does not list a physical location, it says, “You can find us throughout southern California at the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica, Orange Outlets in the city of Orange and a Cerritos Mall.”
According to the organization’s website, the representatives of the Counter Jihadist Coalition set up “booths at public venues and [pass] out our factual trifold brochures on different aspects of Islam.”
Both the Daily Stormer and the Counter Jihadist Coalition meet the SPLC’s definition of a hate group: “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” the SPLC spokesperson wrote in an email.
“The SPLC list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports. Locally identified groups are tracked where members participate in hate group activities which can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,” the spokesperson said. “To be on our list, a group must have participated in at least one of those activities in 2016.”
It’s unclear what the specific activity or activities the Daily Stormer participated in in Santa Monica were, though the organization did advertise “IRL [in real life] meetups” and a book club on its website.
In December 2016, Daily Stormer reported on an incident in which a Santa Monica synagogue was defaced with feces. The tone of the Daily Stormer article is gleefully anti-Semitic and rails against the coverage of the incident by the extreme right-wing propaganda organ Breitbart, heavily intimating that the incident was staged. Joe Pollak, the author of the Breitbart article, is identified by the Daily Stormer as Jewish and identified him as a member of the “Judenpresse,” German for “Jewish press.”
L.A. County has recently seen a spike in hate crimes, especially against religious minorities like Jews and Muslims, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). And right-wing extremism has recently gotten uncomfortably visible in progressive Santa Monica.
A recent meeting of the Santa Monica Democratic Club, which featured State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon as a speaker, was interrupted by about a dozen anti-immigrant protesters, some wearing “Make American Great Again” hats. At the meeting, they chanted anti-immigrant slogans and interrupted speakers who were talking about their experience immigrating to the United States.
At a recent meeting of the local anti-racist group, Committee for Racial Justice, dozens of alt-right and white nationalist activists showed up to protest and disrupt the meeting. Among those present was the notorious “Baked Alaska,” the psuedonym of white nationalist Tim Gionet.
Eventually the crowd dispersed after failing to forcefully push their way into the meeting.
Santa Monica has also recently been in the news because it is the hometown of Stephen Miller, and adviser to President Donald Trump and architect of many of the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, including the notorious Muslim ban.