American cities are reeling after another night of clashes between protesters and law enforcement. Since Thursday, daily, peaceful demonstrations against police brutality, spurred in part by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, have descended into overnight eruptions of violence and destruction.
In some cases, peaceful protests have been met with excessive police force. There have also been widespread incidents of violence and property destruction. And while some of this chaos may be an expression of protesters’ despair and anger against America’s long history of racism and inequality, it is important to note that antiracists are not the only – or even primary – cause of these incidents.
While the majority of protests around the country have been peaceful and focused on opposing police brutality and systemic racism, some individuals and groups, including a scattering of extremists, are taking full advantage of a national crisis to advance their own violent agendas.
Not everyone who is committing violence, it should be noted, is an extremist or connected to a formal group or organization, and not every extremist participating in protests or acts of violence is immediately identifiable.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has been closely monitoring the protests nationwide, and it is our initial assessment that while a number of extremists – including anti-government agitators, anarchists and a handful of white supremacists – are taking an active role, these protests should not be categorized as “extremist” events at this point.