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California Leads in Number of Hate Groups

August 24, 2017

By Ana Gomez Salcido

There are currently 917 hate groups operating in the United States, and 79 of those operate in California, making it the highest number of any state in the country, this according to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The nonprofit organization monitors the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists including the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi movement, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, anti government militias, Christian identity adherents, and others.

These hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.

The nonprofit has documented an explosive rise in the number of hate groups since the turn of the century, driven in part by anger over Latino immigration and demographic projections showing that whites will no longer hold majority status in the country by 2040.

The rise accelerated in 2009, the year President Barack Obama took office, but declined after that, in part because large number of extremists were moving to the web and away from on-the-ground activities. In the last two years, in part due to a presidential campaign that flirted heavily with extremist ideas, the hate group count has risen again.

The hate group list was compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources, and news reports.

The latest statistics from the California Department of Justice show an 11 percent increase in hate crimes in San Diego County. These are crimes that are motivated by bias, prejudice and hate.

“Fighting hate crimes is a priority for me and the District Attorney team, just as they are a priority to our law enforcement partners. We have a team of experts who prosecute hate crimes and who understand the impact on victims. Whenever hateful words or motives are combined with criminal actions, this office will prosecute to the fullest extent allowable by the law,” said San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan in a recent message to the community. “We will not stand by and allow anyone to suffer abuse because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Please take time to understand the law that makes this conduct a crime. You can help by reporting a suspected hate crime if you see one.”

Hate crimes are defined by law as, “Crimes that are committed against individuals or groups or property based on the real or perceived race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or ethnicity of the victims.”

These personal characteristics acting as a substantial factor in the motive for the crime perpetrator is what distinguishes hate crimes from other crimes.

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