Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hate group numbers in the United States top 800

The number of hate groups in the United States reached new heights in 2005. The Intelligence Project counted 803 hate groups active, a jump of more than five percent since 2004 and a more than 30 percent rise since 2000, when there were 602.

"There's no doubt that the white supremacist movement is growing -- we've seen a substantial jump in the number of hate groups in just the last five years," said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project. "And unfortunately, much of that growth has been in the most violent sectors of the movement, skinheads and Christian Identity adherents."

Many factors have spurred the white supremacist movement's growth. They include globalization, involving economic dislocations that have hurt many people and also a dramatic rise in immigration in many countries, both of which have fueled intolerance; the Internet, which has helped the radical right get its ideology out to the broader public; and white power music, which has become the most important way of recruiting young people.

The skinhead movement, a particularly violent sector of the white supremacist movement made up primarily of young males, continued an expansion that began two years ago. Skinheads are often involved in hate crime violence. One of the largest such groups, the Keystone State Skinheads, has two leaders up on charges of attempted murder for attacks on minorities and non-racist skinheads. Prominent skinheads established several new hate music vendors in the last year, which will allow these groups to capture profits from the white power music trade.

Christian Identity activity has picked up after several years of stagnation. A virulently anti-Semitic religion that preaches Jews are the spawn of Satan, Identity has produced a large number of violent white supremacists, including the Atlanta Olympics bomber, Eric Rudolph.

The number of Ku Klux Klan groups was up by 17 over 2004. The rise is partly accounted for by splits in the movement that led several Klan leaders to establish their own organizations. Some Klan groups have moved into the hate music business, hoping to attract skinhead buyers.

The neo-Nazi movement remained in disarray in 2005, losing one chapter. The death of the founders of both the National Alliance and the Aryan Nations in the last few years has seriously harmed the neo-Nazi movement. Former National Alliance staffer Kevin Strom created this year a new neo-Nazi group, National Vanguard, but it has failed to rally the neo-Nazi faithful.

Relying on the Center's documentation, CNN and other media are reporting on the increasing numbers. "It's quite important that the public understand the nature and dimension of the extremist threat in this country," Potok said.

SPLC Report
March 2006