On Wednesday evening June l7, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21 year old white man , opened fire on the black pastor and members of the Emanuel A. M. E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Without any warning, he shot and killed the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney and nine men and women of the congregation during a Bible Study Class. They were all the latest victims of vicious crimes in the United States by members of hate groups that exist in every state of the union.
Federal and local authorities have found that Roof had been in contact with white supremacist groups online. They have also found photographs of him at Confederate heritage sites and slavery museums. Roof’s cell-phone and computer were taken to F.B.I. laboratories at Quantico, VA. where they have been studied by trained agents and analysts. Roof has been charged with the shooting deaths of nine people, but his crimes are still has not officially labeled “hate crimes”. As one who has studied hate groups in the United States for many years, it seems obvious from his statement, “I wanted to start a race war.” that the massacre of the nine black victims were hate crimes.
The single best source for information on hate groups in the United States is the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. This organization has a 35-year record of putting hate groups out of business by winning law suits in the courts. In each case, SPLC pays all litigation costs and all monies recovered go to victims of hate group violence. When Klansmen lynched a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, Center lawyers argued that the Klan was accountable for the acts of its members. They won the case and the $7 million judgment bankrupted the United Klans of America. In 2008, the SPLC won justice for Jordan Gruver, 16, who was brutally beaten at a county fair in Brandenburg, Kentucky by Klansmen because of his skin color. They attacked him as an “ illegal spic”, although Jordan is a U.S. citizen. He suffered broken bones and permanent physical and mental injuries. The Imperial Klans of America were hit with a $2.5 million judgment.
Four times a year, the SPLC publishes their “Intelligence Report” with articles and factual information about the hate groups in the United States. In the Spring 2009/133 Issue, there was an important summary and analysis of 2008, “The Year in Hate”. First, the numbers of hate groups had increased: “Last year, 926 hate groups were active in the U.S., up more than 4% from 888 in 2007. That’s more than a 50% increase since 2000 when there were 602 groups.” The numbers were represented on a map of the United States with each state and the number of groups. New Jersey was near the top in the Northeast with 40. New York had 24, Pennsylvania had 37 and Massachusetts had 13. The highest numbers were in the South and West with California at 84, Texas at 66, Florida at 56 and South Carolina at 45. No state had 0 number of hate groups in residence.
The Report listed the hate groups by name and identified them on a U.S. map by states as well: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinhead, Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Black Separatist and General Hate. General Hate included sub-categories of Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Holocaust Deniers, Racist Music labels and a variety of groups endorsing “a hodge-podge of hate doctrines.” The SPLC gathers its information from hate group publications, citizen reports., law enforcement agencies, field sources and news reports. Activities include marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leaflets, publishing material or criminal acts. Cyberspace listings are not included since they often represent individual Web sites rather than group.
The Report did have a section of Hate Websites: 630 hate sites active in 2008 under group headings: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinheads, Christian Identity, Neo-Confederate, Jewish Treason, Black Separatist, Racist Music and General Hate. Just reading the seven pages of names of the 630 Web sites is a sobering experience. Hatred distilled into the labels: “White Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan”, “Adolf the Great”, “American Nazi Party”, “Nuke Israel”, “White Revolution”, “Diversity is Chaos”, “Jew Watch” “Supreme White Alliance” and “Yahweh’s Truth”.
In The Report’s analysis of why hate groups have increased in number since 2007, the author, David Holthouse, cited three main causes: “As in recent years, hate groups were animated by the national immigration debate, but two new forces also drove them in 2008: the worsening recession, and Barack Obama’s successful campaign to become the nation’s first black president.” It was reported by officials that Obama had received more threats than any other presidential candidate in memory. The Secret Service gave him protection early on the campaign trail. At some of Sarah Palin’s rallies, when she charged that Obama was “paling around with terrorists”, there were cries of “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” Several white supremacists were arrested during the campaign for saying they would assassinate Obama or allegedly plotting to carry that out.
Three groups were singled out as “the most active and dangerous white supremacist hate groups in 2008: Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and Racist Skinheads.” Klan groups jumped from 155 chapters to l86. The Imperial Klans (IKA) did suffer a serious blow when they lost the Gruver case and were hit with the $2.5 million judgment, including $1 million against the IKA leader, Ron Edwards. In December , the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan sent out a media alert, calling for all Klansmen “worldwide” to wear black arm bands and fly the American flag upside down on January 20, the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. The Neo-Nazi groups saw a small drop from 207 to l94 chapters during 2008. This was largely due to the conviction of the National Vanguard’s leader, Kevin Strom, in January on child pornography charges. The National Socialist Movement remained the largest Neo-Nazi hate group. In September, the cover of their magazine, “National Socialist” depicted the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama in the crosshairs of a rifle scope, with the headline, “Kill This Nigger?” Racist Skinhead groups rose from 90 to 98 in 2008 with the addition of several new organizations and the revival of some established groups such as Hammerskin Nation and American Front. When the Confederate Hammerskins met in March in Central Florida at a St. Patty’s Day concert, it drew “skins” from across the country. Included were Outlaws Motorcycle club, a notorious biker group and of local note, Atlantic City Skins.
Now, in the ongoing coverage of the ‘Massacre’ in Charleston, the State newspaper in Columbia, reported that the F.B.I. investigation has widened to include others who may have helped Dylann Roof. It also appears that the Justice Department is likely to file hate crime charges against Roof . He already faces nine counts of murder in state court. Senior officials at the Justice Department said that the shooting was such an “extraordinary event” that the department must bring hate crime charges to send a larger message about it. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
For information on The Southern Poverty Law Center, click on http://www.splcenter.org Their mission has three goals: Fighting hate. Teaching tolerance. Seeking Justice.