Sacramento, CA – The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit closely connected to the Israeli government, is monitoring California white supremacists online and sharing the information with law enforcement agencies, according to documents obtained under the California Public Records Act.
While many groups monitor violent racist groups and individuals, the ADL does much of its work exclusively through partnerships with law enforcement. The ADL also has a long history of surveilling leftists and targeting Black and Palestinian activists in the US who oppose Israeli human rights violations in Palestine. As more police continue to be exposed as members of racist groups, and officers routinely attack anti-racist protesters while facilitating alt-right rallies, some question the value of the ADL providing private intelligence products exclusively to police.
Contributed by Camille Fassett
CONTENT ADVISORY: EXPLICIT RACISM
Two lists of approximately 100 alleged white supremacists in California were disclosed in attachments to emails sent to California Highway Patrol by the Anti-Defamation League in 2016, and obtained by digital security and transparency research collective Lucy Parsons Labs through a CPRA request. (The email attachments, provided to Unicorn Riot, can be seen at the bottom of this article.)
The documents detail information on individuals who espouse white supremacist views across the state, organized by county, including names, dates of birth, locations, tattoos, cell phone numbers, romantic relationships, and places of employment. The details in the lists appear to have been compiled primarily from Facebook profiles, but also include presences on other social media platforms and background information on certain individuals such as criminal history.
Examples of those on the list of dozens of white supremacists include Shane Gilbert Colangelo, pictured with several swastika tattoos.
Another tattoed white supremacist from the list is Gunnar Stine of Chatsworth, California. In 2008, he was arrested along with another member of white supremacist gang Chatsworth Skinheads for his involvement in punching, kicking, and stabbing a black man in Canoga Park, Los Angeles.
One witness testified that Stine approached the man, who was walking on the opposite side of the street and made a Nazi salute and loudly said: “Nigger” and “White Power” before dealing the first blow. The ADL writes that he was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, hate crimes, and gang enhancement, and was paroled around 2015.
“The following document was is part of the ADL’s Social Networking Inventory for May and June 2016,” Joanna Mendelson, Senior Investigative Researcher at the ADL’s Center on Extremism, wrote in an email to CHP on June 30, 2016. “Each of the profiles identified in the document have been archived and key photos saved.” Later that year in September, Mendelson sent a second list, entitled “ADL’s Social Networking Inventory June-Sept 2016.”
It’s unclear when the ADL began monitoring white supremacists on social media and compiling these lists, whether it continues to do so, and how many such lists it has emailed to law enforcement.
Jaime Coffee, an information officer for California Highway Patrol, said this information was unsolicited by CHP. Coffee said that the recipients of this information are either Terrorism Liaison Officers or Intelligence Officers, and that the information is used as an investigatory tool.
CHP has recently drawn criticism after documents emerged showing that its investigators worked with violent neo-nazis to try to prosecute anti-racist activists and a black journalist after they were stabbed at a racist rally in Sacramento in 2016. CHP detectives reportedly told a neo-nazi in police custody “we’re looking at you as a victim” and told him that “we’re pretty much going after them,” referring to anti-racist protesters who were stabbed.
The ADL is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.” It provides “anti-hate” trainings to law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security, and sponsors police exchanges with the Israeli military, known for its human rights abuses and killings of Palestinians. And while the ADL claims to be a champion of equality and anti-discrimination, it considers many leftists to be extremists, and routinely lumps activists in with white nationalists.
The ADL has compiled and published lists of groups and organizations that, for example, build solidarity between movements in Gaza and Ferguson, and posted false allegations about connections between Muslim civil liberties organizations and terrorist groups. It also considers the organizing tactic of boycotting and divesting from Israel to be a serious threat, and engages in efforts to “marginalize and expose the illegitimacy of the BDS movement.”
The ADL did not respond to multiple requests for comment, including to questions about whether the organization monitors the social media profiles of other groups it considers to be extremist, such as Palestinians, BDS advocates, and Black Lives Matter activists.
CHP information officer Coffee was unsure whether the ADL compiles similar lists on other groups of individuals, and whether CHP might receive them.
Emmaia Gelman, a doctoral student at New York University who is researching the ADL, said she would not be surprised if the ADL compiles similar lists on non-white supremacist individuals. She noted that the ADL has a long history of anti-communist activities and spying on leftists.
In 1993, documents implicated the ADL in a vast spying operation against American political activists who opposed Israel’s policies. At that time, the organization was accused of obtaining confidential files on individual citizens from the San Francisco Police Department and from sheriff’s offices in Southern California and of maintaining a “wide-ranging network of unlawful surveillance.”
“[The ADL] uses the same tactics against organizations on the left that they deem to be the enemy, including groups that look systemically at racism and the government’s role in perpetuating racism,” Gelman said. She thinks that the political climate has shifted, and the ADL has been forced to be more careful since advocating for Israel is less mainstream than it used to be. But labelling groups or individuals as anti-semites, she said, stands in for classifying them as extremists.
White supremacists are organizing online and demonstrating across the country. At their rallies, people have been not only harassed and threatened, but also stabbed and murdered. Some anti-racists have responded by making their politics and violent activities public, or sharing evidence of their affiliations when they post evidence of their Nazism on social media. But the implications are unclear when it’s organizations like the ADL, that have histories of targeting activists, that are doing the monitoring and collaborating closely with law enforcement.
Read or download the documents for yourself below:ADL-s-Social-Networking-Inventory-May-June-201 (1)-final
Email PDF download links:
-Subject: ‘ADL”s California Social Networking Inventory May-June 2016‘ (sent June 30, 2016)
-Subject: ‘ADL LEAC Follow-up‘ (sent September 14, 2016)