New Anti-Defamation League study brands Texas as hotbed for hate groups

ADL documented two extremist murders in the Lone Star State and six terrorist plots during 2021 and 2022. It also highlighted antisemitic incidents in San Antonio.

click to enlarge Pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrators assemble outside San Antonio's Aztec Theatre last December to counter a protest by an armed militia group. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
Pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrators assemble outside San Antonio's Aztec Theatre last December to counter a protest by an armed militia group.
Texas has emerged as a hotbed for extremism and hate groups, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League that analyzed three years of white supremacist, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ activity across the state.

Texas recorded the country’s fifth-highest number of antisemitic incidents last year, the same time period ADL tallied its highest-ever number of those instances nationwide. What's more, antisemitic incidents in Texas have increased 89% since 2021, according to the nonpartisan group.

ADL documented two extremist murders in the Lone Star State and six terrorist plots during 2021 and 2022, and this spring, a gunman who embraced neo-Nazi views murdered eight people in a mall parking lot in the North Texas city of Allen.

The study also counted 28 "extremist events" in Texas during 2021 and 2022, including armed protest rallies. Further, Texas was home to more participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection than any other U.S. state, according to the report.

The ADL, founded to counter widespread anti-semitism during the early 20th century, has called out Texas before in reports looking at nationwide trends in hate activity. However, this is the first time the group has issued a study specifically looking at Texas as a hotbed for hate groups.

“Elected officials in Texas have an opportunity to confront this issue to significantly curtail the negative impact that extremism has on the people they represent,” Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism, said in a statement. “It is imperative they prioritize the views and experiences of our most vulnerable communities so that targets of extremism have the resources they need to collaborate with law enforcement to solve this issue.”

Civil rights groups have repeatedly cautioned that former President Donald Trump and other Republican political figures — including those in Texas — have emboldened hate groups by seizing on conspiracy theories and fringe ideologies.

Texas GOP politicians including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have regularly likened migrants to "invaders" — rhetoric often thrown around as part of a racist conspiracy theory that immigrants will "replace" God-fearing Americans. As recently as Wednesday, Abbott called border crossings an "invasion" in a tweet.

That language comes at a time that the ADL reports that extremist groups fixated on securing the border and stopping crossings by asylum seekers have "promoted divisive, dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes immigrants."

Meanwhile, the Texas Legislature has passed recent legislation curbing the rights of LGBTQ+ Texans. The ADL report argues that extremist activity on LGBTQ+ issues in Texas and elsewhere has been "motivated by false narratives" such as the claim that drag performers and gay people in general want to "groom" children for sexual activity. The report describes that narrative as "baseless" and "dangerous."

The Alamo City hasn't been immune to extremist hate. ADL highlighted the following incidents in the San Antonio area:
  • In July 2022, an online threat made against Texas synagogues disrupted Shabbat services in the San Antonio area.
  • Far-right militia Texas Freedom Force protested a December 2022 holiday drag show in San Antonio.
  • Texas Defense Force Security, a security company licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and owned by militia-aligned Robert Beverly, protested a New Braunfels drag show in May 2023.
  • Vandals in October 2022 tore down an Israeli flag at the University of Texas in San Antonio.
Although the ADL report doesn't specifically call out Abbott or any other Texas elected official, it does request that the governor take a proactive stance on reining in hate crimes. The study offers five suggestions for how Abbott could combat rising hate crimes:
  1. Convene a summit of stakeholders from across the state on how to deal with the problem.
  2. Develop strategies and programs for countering domestic terrorism.
  3. Hold media platforms accountable for spreading hate.
  4. Strengthen the state response to hate crimes.
  5. Protect civil rights by passing laws that protect marginalized communities.
The Current contacted Abbott's office to ask whether he or anyone on his staff had read the report and whether the office was considering any of its suggestions. We received no response.

Subscribe to SA Current newsletters.

Follow us: Apple News | Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter| Or sign up for our RSS Feed


Since 1986, the SA Current has served as the free, independent voice of San Antonio, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming an SA Current Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today to keep San Antonio Current.

Scroll to read more Texas News articles

Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.