Weekend Read: Looking back at 2017

2018 is fast approaching, and we’re looking back on some of our most important reports from 2017.

Back in January, we released “Google and the Miseducation of Dylann Roof.” How did Roof go from a childhood in a nonracist home to being so steeped in white supremacy that he murdered nine black parishioners during a Bible study? The answer, we found, lies in part with the extremist propaganda that Google Search yielded for the phrase “black on White crime.”

In March, we published our first major piece of the year on civil asset forfeiture, a process that allows law enforcement to seize and keep billions of dollars in cash and other property from potential suspects – some of whom are never convicted or even charged with a crime. A holdover from the War on Drugs, civil asset forfeiture is ripe for abuse, particularly in the states that do not require law enforcement to report what they confiscate.

We held a public forum in Birmingham, Alabama, in November calling for civil asset forfeiture laws to be reformed. It was held the same month that SPLC staffer Will Tucker published a story about an Alabama man whose home was seized by cash-strapped prosecutors after his death — undermining any argument that its forfeiture could possibly have disrupted criminal activity.

In April, we released a detailed look at the first 100 days of the Trump administration, when it was already clear that the radical right — once relegated to the fringes of society — had a toehold in the Trump White House. Since publishing “100 Days in Trump’s America” we’ve continued to report on instances of extremism in the administration as part of the monthly feature “Hate in the White House.

In June, we published the first of two stories on Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mississippi, profiling the women and children left in poverty after ICE agents took their husbands and fathers. We followed that in September by breaking the story of a police officer’s call to ICE, which left an unarmed man — initially a bystander to a traffic stop — shot and bleeding in the street, an episode that illustrates the hazards of involving ICE in local policing.

Some of the most significant work that we did this year was on the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of a Confederate monument that was slated for removal. Our Hatewatch team warned of the rally before it took place in August, and in its aftermath we were quick to publish information about the extremists behind it, expert analysis on Confederate symbols, and resources on how to respond to hate and extremism.

As the country sought to heal from the horrific violence in Charlottesville and reckon with the hate on display in its streets, we’ve continued to track white nationalism and other forms of extremism in communities. We’ve also worked on a number of additional pieces this year around our core issues of children’s, economic, and LGBT rights.

We’re proud of the impact that we’ve made, and we’re ready to take on the challenges of the year to come. Thank you for your generosity throughout the year, and for the opportunity to work by your side in the fight for justice.

The Editors

P.S. Here are a few other pieces from this year that we think are worth revisiting: