Number of active hate groups in US went beyond 1,000 last year
Story Code : 779218
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday that last year saw the number of hate groups rose by 7 percent to 1,020, a 30-percent rise from 2014.
The center warned in its statement that most of the hate groups, including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederates and white nationalists, promoted white supremacist ideology.
The number of white nationalist groups rose by almost a half over the same period, going from 100 all the way up to 148.
It was the fourth consecutive year in the rise of hate groups across the US, the law center said.
According to SPLC, the numbers correspond with other worrying trends in the US such as a 30-percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the FBI between 2015 and 2017 as well as a surge of violence by right-wing groups that the Anti-Defamation League says killed at least 50 people last year.
“We’re seeing a lot of bad trends,” Heidi Beirich, the director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Wednesday. “There are more hate groups, more hate crimes and more domestic terrorism in that same vein. It is a troubling set of circumstances.”
She said the increase in extremist activity was first detected during early days of the 2016 US presidential election, when then Republican nominee Donald Trump managed to attract a large base and finally make his way into the White House by promoting anti-immigration sentiments.
Before 2016, the number of hate groups was on a decline for three straight years, she said.
“Trump has made people in the white supremacist movement move back into politics and the public domain,” Beirich said. “He is a critical aspect of this dynamic, but he is not the only reason why the ranks of hate groups are growing. The ability to propagate hate in the online space is key.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism said in a report last month that right-wing extremism was behind all extremist-related murders the group recorded last year.
The group said with 50 extremist killings, 2018 marked the deadliest year for right-wing extremism since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed around 170 people and injured hundreds more.
Based in Montgomery, Alabama, the SPLC has been tracking extremism in the US since 1971. In recent years the group has drawn fire from conservatives who think it is politicizing its reports by falsely categorizing right-leaning organizations as hate groups.