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US hate groups continuing to increase: report

The number of hate groups in the US rose to more than 1,000 [press release] during 2010, according to a report [text] released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) [advocacy website]. The SPLC reports this is the first time that these types of groups have exceeded 1,000 since the it started its monitoring in the 1980s. According to SPLC's hate group map [official map] the highest number (68) of hate groups exist in California, while the lowest number (0) were reported in Alaska and Hawaii. The SPLC also noted that more than 300 new "Patriot" movements [complete list] appeared in 2010. These groups embrace conspiracy theories about the US government and tend to view the government as their enemy. Finally, there are now 319 Nativist extreme groups [complete list] in the US. The classification of some groups has been disputed. In particular, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) [official profile] and Minnesota State Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota protested [CSM report] the SPLC's listing of the conservative Family Research Council as a hate group. SPLC has defended the classification saying that the groups deliberately disseminated untrue information about gay people. In its report, SPLC cites a number of dramatic incidents, including the shooting [JURIST report] of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) [official website] and the January arrest of a neo-Nazi at the Arizona border who was armed with grenades, as acts of "terrorism" committed by the swelling number of radical groups in the US.

In June of last year, federal prosecutors filed additional charges [superseding indictment, PDF] against four members of the "Christian warrior" militia, Hutaree, alleging possession of machine guns and unregistered rifles [JURIST report], as well as use of firearms during a violent crime. Nine members of the militia were originally indicted [JURIST report] in March on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with a plan to kill Michigan law enforcement officers. Four members of the militia, including one of the men named in the new indictment, were released on bail [JURIST report] one month earlier. Militia groups such as the Hutaree are reportedly on the rise in the US. A recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center [advocacy website] suggests that a lack of regulation on the Internet [JURIST report] is fueling this increased prevalence. A 2009 report [JURIST comment] by SPLC noted that these groups are making a comeback [JURIST report] after declining in number for several years. The SPLC said that such groups are generally anti-tax, anti-immigration, and increasingly racially motivated since the election of the country's first African-American president, Barack Obama. The SPLC also warned that these groups could soon pose a security risk to the country, quoting one official as saying "[a]ll it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."

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