Report: Number of Hate Groups Fell Last Year


The SPLC's Hate Map shows three extremist groups operating in the Memphis area. - SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • The SPLC's Hate Map shows three extremist groups operating in the Memphis area.

The number of hate groups fell in 2014, according to new figures from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The group’s annual census showed a 17 percent decline in far-right extremist groups operating in America in 2014 than in 2013.

The number fell from 939 groups in 2013 to 784 groups in 2014. It’s the lowest number since 2005. That figure peaked in 2011 at 1,018 groups.

  • Southern Poverty Law Center

The SPLC's annually revised "Hate Map" shows three extremist groups operating in Memphis: the Ku Klos Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam (which SPLS deems a black separatist group), and "The Political Cesspool" radio show (which the SPLC deems "white nationalist.") The map shows 29 extremist groups operating in Tennessee. 

While the number of groups have dropped overall, the SPLC said “terrorist plots and other acts of deadly violence committed by the radical right have not abated.”

“The drop in the number of extremist groups doesn’t tell the entire story,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of the Intelligence Report, the SPLC newsletter. “It appears that extremists are leaving these groups for the anonymity of the Internet, which allows their message to reach a huge audience.”
  • Southern Poverty Law Center

For example, the online neo-Nazi forum Stormfront has about 300,000 users, according to the report, which is up about 60 percent over the last five years.

A domestic terrorist incident has occurred, on average, once every 34 days over the last six years, the report said. Extremist violence continued at levels comparable to the 1990s. The difference, however, is that 90 percent of the attacks have been carried out by “lone wolves” or pairs of extremists.

“Domestic terrorists and other extremists with criminal intentions also are increasingly acting alone, choosing to commit lethal attacks without the help of an organized group," Potok said.

About 149 patriot groups operated before the election of President Barack Obama. But that number surged and by 2013 about 1,096 such groups were operating, the report said. However, that figure fell in 2014 to 874.

The SPLC said the movement to the Internet deserves much of the credit for the decline in the number of hate groups and patriot groups. But other factors include, a strengthening economy, law enforcement crackdowns, “and the fact that many extremist ideas have been co-opted by mainstream politicians.”

“The drop in the number of extremist groups hasn’t been accompanied by any real reduction in extremist violence,” Potok  said. “The level of extremism – and the danger of radical terror – seems just as high as ever.”

The groups listed in the SPLC’s report include: neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other hate groups on the list target LGBT people, Muslims or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music, or propaganda denying the Holocaust.

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