Research Sources on Hate Groups and the Jan. 6 Capitol Assault

By Marcelo Rodríguez

Undeniably, white supremacists and other hate and extremist groups have increased in visibility and impact in the United States over the past ten years or so. No other event in the recent history of our country exemplifies this trend more than the armed assault and insurrection which took place in the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. The January 6 Capitol assault was a shameful event intended to install fear and reverse the democratic will of our people.

But don’t take it from me. US District Judge of the District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said this was an effort “to subvert democracy, to stop the will of the people and replace it with the will of the mob.” In the same courthouse, US Senior Judge Reggie Walton said “It should be an embarrassment to every American.” Also, US Senior Judge Royce Lamberth called it a “disgrace to our country“, and “it was intended to draw to a halt the very functioning of our government.” Despite the challenges of a never-ending pandemic, political and social pressure, and security threats, the women and men judges of the District Court for the District of Columbia, appointed by both political parties, are forcefully and unequivocally meeting the historical moment.

In this post, I’ll feature two fantastic organizations which have for decades gathered a significant amount of data, information and analysis on white supremacist, extremist and hate groups active in our country. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) both have comprehensive and constantly updated information and analysis reports on these groups. Lastly, I will also mention several websites which are dedicated to gather all the information related to the armed insurrection in the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Warning! Please note that this post might trigger unpleasant and traumatic memories on some readers. As these groups target individuals and groups based on misogynist, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Asian, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, islamophobic, etc. propaganda and conspiracy theories, I want the readers to be aware of the troubling information I will be highlighting in this post. Since I was a kid, I have been following my aunt’s advise. Don’t hide and don’t ignore. Face the hate and create some light. Therefore, that is the intent of this post.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Historically, ADL has been at the forefront of combatting hate and antisemitism in all their forms and coming from all political and ideological backgrounds. Through its Center on Extremism, ADL aims to monitor and gather information on hate, extremist and terrorist events both here in the US and internationally. As in this post, ADL information and data centers overwhelmingly on the United States.

Logo of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

First, their Resource Library has a significant amount of reports, recordings of previous webinars and podcasts, fact sheets and background analysis. As a librarian myself, I particularly appreciate their section on glossary terms. For the purpose of this post, I’d like to highlight their entries on glossary terms related to extremism, terrorism and bigotry. More specifically, in their Defining Extremism: A Glossary of White Supremacist Terms, Movements and Philosophies, ADL provides a concise list of terms and their definitions which help researchers understand their other sources and data.

For researchers of white supremacist and extremist groups in the US, ADL has two databases of special value: HEAT Map and Hate Symbols Database. HEAT Map stands for a map visualization of hate, extremism, antisemitism and terrorism (HEAT). In it, you can track events, incidents, assaults and murders extracted from a multitude of sources such as police reports, government information, ADL in-house analysis and even alerts from the public itself. The information is updated monthly with a brief description and its corresponding ideological category. The HEAT Map works in tandem with the Hate Symbols Database. The descriptions and ideological categories in the HEAT Map can be deciphered and further analyzed in the Hate Symbols Database. The Symbols Database provides a concise definition of groups, signs, slang terms, logos and abbreviations.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

Logo of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

Similar to ADL, the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has an extensive and authoritative reputation on monitoring hate groups, white supremacists and domestic extremists in the United States. Since its inception, SPLC has been gathering information on hate groups in the country. SPLC defines a hate group as a group that vilifies “others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.” This definition is important to understand which groups and what events you will find in their Hate Map and Hatewatch. The Hate Map aims to provide researchers with a visualization of hate groups present nationally and only in specific states. Its corresponding blog, Hatewatch provides recent news and analysis reports on these groups and attacks perpetrated or propaganda events.

SPLC also gathers and publishes information on far right extremist individuals and groups. The Extremist Files contain comprehensive profiles on the history, events, impact related to these individuals and groups. Despite SPLC’s difference of definition between hate groups and extremists, there seems to be a significant overlap between the Hate Map and Extremist Files. Several groups in the Extremist Files have been designated as hate groups by SPLC. Furthermore, the list of ideologies in which SPLC classifies hate and extremist groups help researchers to make more links in the data and for further analysis.

January 6th Cases and Investigation

On January 6, 2021, an armed mob assaulted the US Capitol and threatened elected officials and government staff while they were certifying election results. A year later, this historical event remains the largest criminal investigation in our country’s history. Investigations, academic research, analysis reports and legal experts have all confirmed the massive overlap between those involved in the insurrection and white supremacist and other extremist groups in the country. The upcoming oral arguments on January 10 on three major related cases will shed more light on the planning and managing of the January 6 Capitol assault.

Among the free, trustworthy and independent sources I have come across, I highly recommend Just Security’s January 6 Clearinghouse and the Capitol Hill Siege by the George Washington University (GWU)’s Program on Extremism. The Just Security’s Clearinghouse is a comprehensive and exhaustive source of information including timeline of the event, congressional reports and press releases, pending and closed criminal and civil cases, research and profiles on leaders and groups involved, academic secondary sources and much more. If the information is not housed in the Clearinghouse, it links to a external sources of information, either from the government or from independent and reliable institutions and organizations. Alternatively, for those solely interested in the legal cases, GWU’s Capitol Hill Siege provides an exhaustive database with all relevant court documents for each case. Apart from information on each particular case, GWU provides analysis on the cases conducted so far: 155 (22%) have pleaded guilty; cases have been brought against 613 men (87%) and 91 women (13%) or the largest numbers came from Florida (75), Pennsylvania (63), and Texas (63). Please see image below for more stats.

In the realm of government sources, the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia publishes court documents on all federal cases brought so far. This spread sheet has a significant amount of useful information easily accessible in docket format: description of charges, case status and date of last entry. Furthermore, the US House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol provides some free information about their work so far. Their press releases, video recordings of previous hearings and documents from business meetings can be a great source of information for any researcher interested in their findings, procedure and next steps. More information and sources from this investigation are forthcoming.

For further research:

Belew, K., & Gutierrez, R. A. (Eds.). (2021). A Field Guide to White Supremacy. Univ of California Press.

Belew, K. (2021). The white power movement at war on democracy. HFG Research and Policy In Brief.

Dunleavy, D. Making Sense of Symbols of Social Unrest: Flags and Flag-Waving during the “Save America” rally and US Capitol Riot: January 6, 2021.

Jeppesen, S., Giroux, H., Hoechsmann, M., Kumanyika, C., VanDyke, D., & McKee, M. (2022). The Capitol Riots: Digital Media, Disinformation, and Democracy Under Attack. Routledge

Jones, S. G., Doxsee, C., Hwang, G., & Thompson, J. (2021). The military, police, and the rise of terrorism in the united states. Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://www. csis. org/analysis/military-police-and-rise-terrorism-united-states.

Kenes, B. (2021). The Proud Boys: Chauvinist Poster Child of Far-Right Extremism. European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS).


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