During one of the most politically divisive years in recent memory, the number of active hate groups in the US actually declined as far-right extremists migrated more to online networks, reflecting a spin-off of white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that are harder to identify. track.
In its annual report, to be released Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it identified 838 active hate groups operating in the US in 2020. That’s a decrease from the 940 documented in 2019 and the record 1,020. in 2018, said the Law Center, which tracks racism, xenophobia and anti-government militias.
“It is important to understand that the number of hate groups is simply a metric to measure the level of hatred and racism in the United States, and that the decline in groups should not be interpreted as a reduction in intolerant hate-motivated beliefs and actions. “. said the report, first shared exclusively with The Associated Press.
The Montgomery, Alabama-based legal center said that many hate groups have moved to social media platforms and using encrypted apps, while others have been banned entirely from major social media.
Still, the legal center said, online platforms allow people to interact with anti-government and hate groups without becoming members, maintain connections with like-minded people, and engage in real-world actions, such as last month’s siege of the US Capitol
White nationalist organizations, a subset of the hate groups listed in the report, declined last year by more than 100. Those groups had seen tremendous growth in the previous two years after being spurred on by Donald’s campaign and presidency. Trump, according to the report.
The number of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ hate groups remained largely stable, while their in-person organizing was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Simply put, the levels of hatred and intolerance in the United States have not decreased, said Margaret Huang, SPLC president and CEO.
“The important thing is that we begin to consider all the reasons why these groups have persisted for so long and have been able to gain so much influence in the last White House that they actually feel emboldened,” Huang told the AP.
Last month, when the Joe Biden administration began to settle in, the Department of Homeland Security issued an early national terrorism bulletin in response to a growing threat from local extremists, including anti-government militias and white supremacists. Extremists are merging into a broader and less affiliated movement of people who reject democratic institutions and multiculturalism, Huang said.
The SPLC report comes almost a month after a mostly white mob of Trump supporters and members of far-right groups violently raped the US Capitol building. At least five deaths have been linked to the assault, including a Capitol police officer. Some in the mob waved Confederate battle flags and wore clothing with neo-Nazi symbolism.
Federal authorities have made more than 160 arrests and sought hundreds more on criminal charges related to the deadly January 6 assault. Authorities have also linked roughly 30 defendants to a group or movement, according to an AP review of court records.
That includes seven defendants linked to QAnon, a once fringe internet conspiracy movement that recently became a powerful force in mainstream conservative politics; six linked to the Proud Boys, a misogynistic, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic group linked to white supremacism; four linked to Oath Keepers, a paramilitary organization that recruits current and former military, law enforcement and first responders; four linked to the Three Percenters, a movement of anti-government militias; and two leaders of “Super Happy Fun America,” a group with ties to white nationalists known for organizing the so-called “straight pride” parade in downtown Boston in 2019.
The SPLC made several recommendations for the new administration in its last report. He called for the establishment of offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of internal terrorism. He also called for improved federal hate crime data collection, training, and prevention; and for the enactment of federal legislation diverting funding from punishment models towards preventing violent extremism.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism