White Supremacist groups have foothold in San Diego County
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A veteran county prosecutor and the head of an organization that fights violence against American Jews said there are more incidents of hate-based crimes in San Diego.
Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego said her organization observed a fourfold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the county from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017.
This past winter, the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla was one of more than 50 centers around the nation that received bomb threats. Gillies noted that one white supremacist group showed up at San Diego State this year to distribute leaflets to college students. In San Diego County, the ADL reports a 33 percent in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 over the previous year.
“The ADL trains all law enforcement that go through the police academy in San Diego on hate crimes, and what is a hate crime and how to manage the scene to make sure that if it is a hate crime, that it is prosecuted that way,” Gillis said.
Citing figures from the California Department of Justice, Deputy District Attorney Oscar Garcia said reports of bias crimes in San Diego County soared by 11 percent from 2015 to 2016.
The department says the number of reported hate crimes statewide increased by 12.6 percent in the same period. Garcia said people who hold white supremacist views come from all socio-economic groups.
“What is new is they’ve been looking for an opportunity- an opportunity where they feel emboldened and that people will tolerate their behavior so it’s more acceptable to express yourself and even commit acts of violence,” Garcia said.
Both Garcia and Gillies agreed that the Internet gives white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups a broader platform.
“What’s happening going forward, is anybody’s guess. I think our role in the community is to educate about who these people are, what they’re about and ask the community to stand up and say we’re not going to accept this kind of hate here.” Gillies said.
The ADL will host a 7 p.m. meeting on Tuesday night at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla as a way for community members to show their collective condemnation of bigotry, hate, and violence.