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Hate groups have increased by 30 percent in the past four years, reaching an all-time high, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The center, which has been monitoring hate groups and other extremists since the 1980s, counted 1,020 hate groups in the U.S. — “the most the SPLC has ever counted,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the law center's Intelligence Project.
Hate crimes saw a “short period of decline,” falling 23 percent from 2011 till 2014, but the law center's report said there has been a steady increase in the past four years.
“Domestic terrorism has also been on the upswing,” Beirich said at a news conference on the release of the center's annual intelligence report. Citing examples like the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the two black people murdered in a Kroger's grocery in Kentucky, the law center documented 40 people murdered in the U.S. and Canada by radical right extremists.
These murders, the center explained, are often motivated by fear of demographic changes these extremists falsely believe is causing “white genocide.”
Beirich added that anti-woman sentiment is becoming more commonplace in hate groups. “Rabid misogyny is now an integral part of America’s hate scene,” she said, citing the fatal shooting of two women in a yoga class in Tallahassee, Florida, among others.
In 2017, the law center added “male supremacy groups” to their hate-list, saying the group replicates behavior in other hate groups. Beirich said that these groups, many of which have close ties to white supremacist groups, are largely online and “massive.”
The law center also said that black nationalist hate groups use President Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about African nations and black football players to recruit members. These groups are “typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white,” but Beirich noted that they are “very different than the white hate groups we track” partly because they have “no supporters in mainstream politics.”
Beirich said that white nationalist groups have been “particularly electrified by Trump’s presidency.” The groups “surged by nearly 50 percent last year, growing from 100 chapters in 2017 to 148 in 2018,” the law center reported.