05/06/2005

Map tracks nation's hate groups

May 6, 2005 -- Continuing in 2005 with one of its most utilized and well-received initiatives, the Center's Intelligence Project recently updated its map of active United States hate groups.

The map, the most popular feature on the Center's website, identifies 762 active groups in 2004. While that number represents only a slight increase over the 751 groups identified in 2003, it continues an upward trend in the number of U.S. hate groups, according to Intelligence Project director Mark Potok.

In 1997, Center staff identified 474 active groups. That number has continued to grow each year, with 602 groups counted in 2000, 708 in 2002 and 762 last year. That rise is mirrored by a rise in the number of hate sites on the Internet, from 366 in 2000 to 468 in 2004.

"A number of the larger groups have suffered through a bad couple of years," said Joe Roy, chief investigator for the Intelligence Project. "But on the whole, the white supremacist movement does not seem to have shrunk at all."

Some of the groups that have suffered over the last few years include The National Alliance, the nation's leading neo-Nazi group. In addition to losing members in 2003, the Alliance came under attack for the incompetence of its membership, and several chapters of the group split off to form their own factions.

Also suffering badly in 2004 was the Aryan Nations, which suffered a major loss with the death of its founder, Richard Butler, and the Creativity Movement, which saw a significant decline in the number of its chapters.

Despite these losses, white supremacist activity continued a steady increase last year, as evidenced by the increase in groups on the 2004 hate map.

U.S. Air Force master sergeant Johnny Jones says he uses the hate map for staff training.

"I use the map to show that hatred is alive," said Jones. "It helps me make the point that the military is a mirror of our society, and we have members associated with hate groups in our ranks."

Each year, Intelligence Project staff sift through hate groups' publications, citizens' reports, news reports and information from law enforcement agencies and field sources to develop the most up-to-date data on American hate groups. That data is then passed on to law enforcement, journalists, academics and the general public.

The information has proved valuable — and eye-opening.

"You have excellent information on hate groups throughout the United States," wrote one security expert in an e-mail to the Center. "I work in the field of security and share this information with other security agents."

Another supporter said he was surprised to learn how many groups were still active in his state.

"I was under the impression that the KKK was defunct and bankrupted," he said. "I am saddened by what I see, that even in my state there are so many active groups that espouse hate."

The map includes organizations that are known to be active in 2004. Those activities include marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting, publishing literature or criminal acts.

This year, for the first time, the map is available in eight different incarnations. In addition to identifying the total number of groups in each state, the map is broken down into hate group categories. These include the Ku Klux Klan groups, neo-Nazis, racist Skinheads, Christian Identity groups, black separatists, neo-Confederates and other hate groups.

The 2004 map of active U.S. hate groups is available in the spring 2005 issue of the Intelligence Report, as well as online.