This past week, GPAHE’s co-founders, Wendy Via and Heidi Beirich, participated in the annual Eradicate Hate Summit held in Pittsburgh. The event, which grew out of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogues in 2018, brings together experts from around the world to devise strategies and programs to combat the rising tide of hate in the US and abroad. Here Beirich speaks about the purpose of the Summit as well as GPAHE’s work.
This year, a special focus was placed on the tragic shooting in May at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, that targeted Black people and was inspired by the same white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that motivated the Tree of Life shooter. Members of the Buffalo community spoke about their efforts to heal and to fight this violence. There were keynotes by Alice Warinmu Nderitu, the UN’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, and Steven Dettelbach, director of the ATF. Many of GPAHE’s close partners, such as Poland’s Never Again Association, participated in the event.
GPAHE’s Heidi Beirich served on the Summit’s global advisory board and helped design the slate of events devoted to extremism among veterans, military and police forces. She spoke on several panels addressing these issues, including a panel devoted to practical solutions for the problem of far-right extremism among police officers and the threat posed by so-called “Constitutional Sheriffs,” who claim that federal laws do not apply in their counties and who have become deeply involved in election denialism which threatens our democracy. Beirich also took part in a discussion on how multilateral, international institutions can help combat the rising tide of hate and far-right extremism. That panel grew out of work by GPAHE with the Global Counterterrorism Forum on a tool kit for combating Racially and Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists, or REMVEs.
Other topics addressed at the Summit included prevention strategies and education. The annual Summit is only part of the work that this group of experts undertakes. Working groups meet throughout the year to create solutions to mitigate hate and far-right extremism, as the purpose of the Summit is to devise practical and concrete solutions and programs.