The mid-August events that transpired in Charlottesville, Va., during the “Unite the Right” rally, which left one woman dead, provided Nazi-inspired imagery many thought they’d never see again and hoped their children would never see in their lifetimes.
In the aftermath, people across the country voiced their concern and horror.
And in addition to Facebook statuses decrying the attitudes of the white nationalists and the myriad solidarity marches and protests that sprouted across the country (including in Philadelphia), many opened their wallets.
After the Charlottesville incident, the Anti-Defamation League reported a 1,000 percent surge in online donations, per multiple sources.
Contributing to the high increase in donations were a long list of celebrities and major corporations.
Film and TV writer and producer Judd Apatow hosted a sold-out comedy night benefiting the organization on Aug. 24 and announced he would match donations up to $10,000.
Bank giant JPMorgan Chase donated $1 million, split between the ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
MGM Resorts International announced it would match employees’ donations to civil rights groups, including the ADL, and even dating apps like Bumble chimed in, which announced a partnership with the ADL to combat hateful speech and activity found in users’ profiles.
There were also many new donors, the organization’s Philadelphia Regional Director Nancy Baron-Baer noted.
“It clearly means that people are recognizing how important ADL is today,” she said. “With our dual mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all, we were uniquely suited and are uniquely equipped to handle the events that have been unfolding over the past couple weeks. This went to the heart of our mission. There were people defaming the Jewish people and there were groups and individuals that were seeking anything but justice and fair treatment for all.”
But while these high-profile donations are undoubtedly helpful, Baron-Baer noted there is always more work to be done.
“While we’re thrilled by the increase in donations post-Charlottesville, we have work to do every single day,” she said, “and it’s important for people to keep supporting us because what’s happening in the world today is not going away tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, the rally was an event the ADL saw coming.
“Because of the work that ADL does all the time with law enforcement and with local leaders, etc., we were sadly prepared for much of what happened in Charlottesville because we had been tracking the event for weeks,” she said. Staff had already created analyses of what they thought would happen, preparing videos, petitions and logs ahead of time.
“That’s important, that people understand that we didn’t just come out of the woodwork post-Charlottesville,” she said, “but this was almost a culmination, sadly, of a lot of the work, a lot of the preparation we had done for weeks if not months.”
The donations it’s received help the organization continue its broad mission — which covers everything from advocacy in government to education and training of law enforcement.
“We need the funds to be able to keep doing work in all those different areas,” Baron-Baer noted, “so if there is an increase in donations, it certainly helps provide us with more educational tools, more resources, more trainings for law enforcement, the ability to help schools in communities that may not be able to afford some of our trainings that are not offered at no cost, it helps us get out to more synagogues.
“Many of our offerings are done at no cost to anyone,” she added, “and in order to continue to offer trainings and education at no cost, we need these kind of donations to come into the office.”
In Philadelphia, local people and even restaurants have stepped up.
In bidding farewell to its Fitler Square location, Tria Cafe held a party Aug. 29 in which 20 percent of the proceeds would be split between ADL Philadelphia and the NAACP.
Per a Tria official, $702.30 was raised for the ADL through the 10 percent of sales, plus another $105 in donations from guests.
Government officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, have stepped up to help in a different way.
On Aug. 18, the ADL and the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced a 10-point Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry “to fight extremism and bigotry and promote justice and equality in response to the disturbing hate and violence seen in Charlottesville, Va.”
Points include “elevating and prioritizing anti-bias and anti-hate programs in our nation’s schools” and “promoting law enforcement training on responding to and reporting hate incidents, hate crimes and domestic terrorism.”
Among the more than 300 signatories are Kenney, as well as mayors from Pennsylvania cities Easton, Allentown, Downington, Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton and York. Mayor Chuck Cahn of Cherry Hill, N.J., and other mayors of nearby New Jersey towns also signed.
“It’s important for government officials to show their constituents, to show the citizens of where they live, that they and the community in which individuals live believe in the importance of combating hate, of combating extremism and discrimination,” Baron-Baer said.
“What would it say if the city said, ‘I’m not interested in that’? What would it tell its constituents?”
Baron-Baer also noted the increase in calls they’ve received post-Charlottesville.
“Certainly since Charlottesville, this office has received a higher number of complaints about both anti-Semitic incidents in the region as well as incidents that are or have been addressed to members of the African-American community, members of the Latino community, etc.,” she said.
However, not all hope is lost — there has been change both on the “negative and positive side,” Baron-Baer said.
Though there has been an increase in incidents, there has also been an increase in the number of people who want to fight against the hate and have joined ADL as activists.
“Everything from the cemetery desecration, to individual discrimination incidents to graffiti, harassment on the negative side,” she said, “to the positive side of individuals both wanting to contribute financially but also in terms of their time and their efforts on our behalf.”
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