Skip to main content

SPLC Intelligence Report: Law enforcement officers face range of domestic extremist threats

Whether it’s a vicious white supremacist street gang, secessionists or violent black nationalists, law enforcement officers across the country are facing an array of extremist threats that are examined in the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, released today.

The cover story, “Rude & Crude,” examines how police in Portland, Oregon, are trying to contain the rising threat of Brood, a street gang with white supremacist elements and no regard for the law. Formed in the mid-1980s when a group of homeless teens banded together for protection on the city’s streets, Brood has become a formidable – and brutal – gang that has transformed Portland apartment complexes into armed compounds, trafficked untold amounts of narcotics and even operated a torture chamber out of an auto body shop on a major thoroughfare.

“The radical right poses a serious threat to police officers across the country,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “Secessionist movements are popping up across the country, white street gangs – such as the Brood – are growing in numbers, and police officers are being killed by white and black extremists alike.”

Two ambush killings in July 2016 that left eight officers dead are examined in “Return of the Black Nationalist.” The attacks suggest a re-emergence of a violent black nationalist movement, a domestic terror threat not seen since the 1970s. The movement, which wants a portion of the Southeast reserved for a black nation, represents a broad swath of antigovernment, anti-police and racist ideologies.

Splitting the Difference” examines various movements aimed at breaking up the United States to create a new nation or new states. Some supporters of these movements, which frequently include antigovernment beliefs, have voiced support for the armed standoff that erupted between militiamen and Bureau of Land Management agents in 2014 after the agency attempted to seize the cattle of Cliven Bundy. The Nevada rancher owed more than $1 million in grazing fees and fines to the government and had refused to comply with court orders.

The law enforcement edition of the Intelligence Report also includes the SPLC’s latest training DVD, “Understanding the Threat: Hate Crimes.” The 15-minute video, which is designed to be shown at roll call, shows officers how to recognize, respond and report hate crimes properly and promptly. A 2013 Department of Justice study found that more than 250,000 Americans over the age of 12 are victimized every year by hate crimes. But only about one in three are ever reported to law enforcement.

“Hate crimes are unlike any other crime a law enforcement officer will encounter,” Beirich said. “They don’t just affect the victim – they affect an entire community. An officer’s response can let a community know that authorities take these crimes seriously and will not tolerate their message of fear and intimidation.”

Also in this issue of the Intelligence Report:

  • Paper Terrorism” examines how sovereign citizens attack public servants through a convoluted system of liens, lawsuits and false reports. It also describes how some states are fighting back.
  • Blood Cult” offers a look inside Utah’s polygamous Kingston clan, a secretive cult that commands an estimated 6,000 adherents and mixes incest, white supremacy and old-fashioned capitalism. The group, also known as The Order, has been designated as a hate group by the SPLC after an examination of available evidence, including accounts by numerous former members.
  • Trump Election Energizes Anti-LGBT Right” looks at how Donald Trump’s presidency has led to troubling rollbacks of LGBT rights, a development welcomed by anti-LGBT extremists who see an opportunity for a reinvigorated and sustained assault on the gay and lesbian community.