New Jersey Grapples With Far-Right Extremism
Just as we feared--a rise in far-right violence. Here is the example of N.Jersey.
"New Jersey investigators were looking into a routine complaint from a woman who said her ex-boyfriend was harassing her, when they uncovered something far more dire: The 25-year-old man had stockpiled weapons and far-right propaganda and had talked about shooting up a hospital.
Two months later, New Jersey State Police responding to a crash in the same county discovered illegal assault weapons in the back seat of a car. Later, they found 17 more firearms, a grenade launcher and neo-N@zi paraphernalia in the driver’s home.
The arrests of the two men rocked law enforcement officials in Sussex County, raising fears that far-right extremism is growing in this sleepy, rural area in New Jersey.
It is impossible to know if the two arrests so close together are a fluke or signal of a growing white supremacist movement in the county, law enforcement officials said. . . .
Sussex has lately been seeing ugly signs of increasing racism and anti-Semitism. Vandals have scrawled sw@stikas in schools, and in a highly-publicized incident last fall, supporters of a Jewish congressman had their Sussex County home vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.
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At the same time, there has been a rise in right-wing extremism across the country. White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed more people than any other category of domestic extremist in the past 18 years. In August, for example, a white supremacist targeting Mexicans murdered 22 in a Walmart in El Paso.
Sussex as a case study
Tucked along New Jersey’s western border, Sussex County is rural and mostly white, though over the last five years there has been a small but steady increase in the number of immigrants living there. President Trump easily carried the county in 2016.
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. . . [T]he most frequent targets have been the district’s schools: Sw@stikas have been found at schools in Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Emerson and the Pascack Valley.
Mr. Gottheimer noted that other hate groups like the Oath Keepers and the [KKK] were gaining a foothold in his district. “The concern is those acts of hate are the embers and then they begin to get radicalized,” he said.
[. . .]
Mr. Zaremski was an emergency medical technician who frequented white supremacist forums online and had a trove of neo-N@zi literature. He was only caught because he sent a photo of his ex-girlfriend wearing parts of a N@zi uniform to her employer, officials said.
The police later discovered that he had made videos set in New Jersey that mimicked, shot-by-shot, the first minutes of the live-streamed massacre of Muslims by a right-wing terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand. He had also stockpiled automatic weapons, each with the same markings on the gun magazines as the Christchurch shooter, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Indeed, Mr. Zaremski was so obsessed with the mass shooting in New Zealand that he made his former girlfriend watch the video of the shooting repeatedly, investigators said. He also affixed a “Right Wing Death Squad” patch to his E.M.T. jacket.
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The way Mr. Zaremski became radicalized has become the new normal, law enforcement officials and experts on hate groups said. More and more alienated young people are adopting extreme ideologies in online forums and chat rooms, rather than joining traditional groups like the [KKK]."
One point stressed in the article is the problem created by the federal policy of deferring such cases to local authorities. The result is "there was no longer a national repository of data and information on far-right groups" that can be shared with local authorities, and local authorities have trouble infiltrating right-wing groups because they don't have enough information on them. In other words, nobody knows how to find these online mavericks with their stockpiles of weapons and blood in their eyes.