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Glendale Extremists Are Part of a National Network Committed to Dismantling Democracy.

Glendale, CA has a long history marked by bigotry and extremism: as a sundown town still impacted by the legacy of redlining and as the former home of the American Nazi party. In 2021, a new strain of reactionary extremism emerged, led by 2x failed political candidate Jordan Henry, and focused on attacking public education, the LGBTQ+ community, and unions. Henry and his followers represented a national coordinated effort driven and funded by right-wing think tanks, legal and policy organizations, and Christian nationalist groups. 

 

Since 2021 the Glendale group of reactionary extremists have networked widely across the region with anti-government groups, known violent actors, and dark-money funded right-wing organizations. At the same time, local researchers have tracked the networking and expansion of these groups. 

Glendale Extremist Network is intended to serve as a resource for the community and a space to document the ongoing attempts to restrict civil liberties, vilify the LGBTQ+ community, and destroy our public institutions. 

 

Glendale deserves better than extremism. 

Extremism Case Study:
From Chris Rufo to Jordan Henry

In early 2021, right wing groups escalated a nationwide assault on public schools. Led by Christopher Rufo and a number of hastily created dark money-funded organizations, they quickly manufactured a modern day red scare and moral panic about broadly popular and widely adopted curriculum related to race, American history, LGBTQ issues, and sexual education programs. Critical Race Theory was Rufo's first test case but he quickly moved on to "gender ideology" and "parental rights." By June 2023, these false allegations led to violent anti-GUSD protests led by Jordan Henry.

How does local extremism work?

Extremist talking points and tactics follow a familiar pattern as they catch hold in communities like Glendale, Temecula, Chino Valley, and beyond.

 

First, an influential far-right public figure makes a vague allegation (e.g. schools are teaching "radical gender ideology," teachers are "groomers").

 

This person's social media followers quickly latch onto the claim and spread it. These extremist online networks (Signal, Telegram, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok) coordinate meetups at school board meetings, rallies, and city council meetings to make public comment, where false claims can be clipped and spread further on social media.

 

Soon after, the "controversy" is amplified through legacy media, who cover the "controversy" in a "both sides" framing that legitimizes the original extremist claim within moderate, often older communities that still consume legacy media. These news consumers may not have any connection to public schools and thus believe that the claim must be true because it is in the New York Times or on CNN.

Public institutions, often understaffed and unable to monitor threats in real-time, are caught off-guard by extremists' intensity and violence. School boards, parents, city councils, and residents mistakenly believe that if they ignore the extremists, they will go away.

 

Public officials facing extremist attacks often fail to understand that the most effective way to fight extremism is to call it what it is and to double down on standing for what's right: laws and policies designed to protect everyone.

Because most voters don't vote at all, let alone in local elections, these elections are ripe targets for extremist takeovers. Extremists on City Councils and School Boards quickly lead to ongoing chaos, staff resignations, and legal fights that drain city and school budgets of operating funds, decrease public and school safety, and further erode public trust in government.

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