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New York State Of Hate

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

The Southern Poverty Law Center is out with an updated version of its "Hate Map." The group ranks New York state fourth in the nation for the number of active hate groups.

Marking what Senior Fellow Mark Potok attributes to "a surge in right-wing populism," he writes "the radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century."  According to the SPLC, the number of what it classifies as hate groups operating in the U.S. in 2016 remained at near-historic levels, rising from 892 in 2015 to 917.   "I think that slight rise is not the most important information out of that report. I think what really is important is that that number, 917 hate groups, is just about a hundred short of our all-time high of 1,018 hate groups back in 2011."

The highest population states have the most: "California has 79 groups, Texas has 55, Florida has 63, and New York comes in fourth with 47."

Potok believes the count understates the number of the radical right. "We're seeing increasing numbers of people who are in the world of white supremacy but are not members of brick and mortar groups. They are generally people who lurk on the internet."

He cited Charleston mass-murderer Dylann Roof as an example: "He was simply someone who read propaganda on the internet and one day decided that he needed to murder black people."

Although it’s sometimes unclear whether local people are actually affiliated with organized hate groups, some like the Ku Klux Klan have been active in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys: Fort Plain police last week arrested someone for placing KKK recruitment fliers on car windshields.

Others have been trying to instill fear by targeting Jewish Community Centers across the land: the Sidney Albert JCC in Albany has received two bomb threats in recent weeks. Adam Chaskin is the Albany JCC's Executive Director:   "We have great faith because we know the FBI is working diligently to solve the case. It certainly has brought to attention, not just in the Jewish JCC community, but in the community at large of some of the unfortunate incidents that've happened of various types of form of hate. One of the great benefits, if that's an appropriate word, of the bomb threats here, has been the outpouring of support that we've received from the community. Here at the JCC, we provide a place that is a safe place for everyone to come no matter what their background, what their beliefs are, to come and interact."

So far in 2017, the JCC Association of North America says that there have been 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province.

Potok points out that by far the most dramatic change in the Hate Map was the enormous leap in anti-Muslim hate groups. "They in fact rose by 197 percent, in other words, they almost tripled from 34 groups in 2015 to 101 of these groups in 2016."

SPLC finds different kinds of hate groups in different parts of the country in different kinds of environments. "Black seperatist hate groups are almost uniformly found in cities. Most on the East Coast, some on the West Coast. If on the other hand you look at Klan groups, they are universally rural, there are virtually none of them in cities."

  • The SPLC tracked 917 hate groups in the nation last year.

The SPLC named 47 groups in New York, where the upstate versus downstate scenario comes into play: "And it is in such situations that we often see real conflict, and typically the number of hate groups goes up in states like that. A similar thing is true of Florida. South Florida is very different. It is very worldly, very cosmopolitan, very Jewish, very black, very Latino. And that is not at all true of northern Florida, which is very white and very conservative. So that is part of the reason for the high count in Florida, and I think a similar thing is going on in New York."

In preparing its Hate Map and report, the SPLC used information furnished by the hate groups along with police and media reports from around the country.

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