WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (Reuters) – The number of hate groups operating in the United States rose 7 percent to a record high last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday, attributing the increase to anti-immigrant rhetoric. President. Donald Trump.
The SPLC, which has been monitoring hate groups since 1971, found that 1,020 of them were active in the United States in 2018, breaking the record of 1,018 set in 2011. This was the fourth consecutive year of growth.
The group blamed Trump, whose government has focused on reducing illegal and legal immigration to the United States.
"The words and images emanating from Trump's administration and Trump himself accentuate these fears," said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's "Intelligence" project, during a conference call. "These images of frightening alien invaders threatening diseases, huge caravans of refugees from the south, it's alarmist."
The White House has repeatedly rejected allegations of bias against Trump, often citing the effects of a strong economy on minority communities. He did not respond to a request for comment on the report on Wednesday.
States with KKK chapters currently active
The SPLC defines hate groups as organizations with beliefs or practices that demonize a class of people. The number of groups has increased by 30% since 2015, when Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency.
The latest wave of new hate groups took place in the early years of Barack Obama's presidency, in reaction to the first black president of the United States, the group said. The number has risen 9% in the first three years of the Obama administration to reach the previous record and then dropped until 2015.
The group also cited the online incentive to rise. Despite efforts to regulate the content of traditional websites, including Facebook, the Internet remains the most fertile ground for hate groups to recruit new members, SPLC said.
The non-profit organization said the growth of hate groups seemed to entice some who share their ideologies to take violent action. He quoted Robert Bowers, accused of killing 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, shouting "All Jews must die."
As part of the number of SPLC hate groups, black nationalist groups increased by 13%, reaching 264 in 2018, an increase attributed by SPLC to a brutal reaction against Trump's policies.
Some of the SPLC targets have criticized the findings of the Montgomery, Alabama-based organization claiming it had mis-labeled legitimate organizations.
Earlier this month, the founder of the Proud Boys, a club of "western chauvinists" who describes himself as a man, filed a lawsuit against the center for defamation lawsuits. He claimed that the Proud Boys opposed racism, while the SPLC claimed that he was sticking to his research. (Report by Katharine Jackson, edited by Scott Malone, Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)