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Across the country and throughout the state, hate is on the rise. Nationally, there were 917 hate groups identified in 2016 by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), up from 892 the previous year. Those figures include an additional nine such groups operating in Michigan, bringing the state's number of hate groups to 28 in 2016.
Those figures are part of the SPLC's most recent Hate Map, which lists Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, black separatist and other hate groups by name and location in each state.
The SPLC defines hate groups as any group that has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. The list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports. Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.
To be included in the list, each hate group must have participated in at least one hate group activity in 2016. That means some of the additional groups added to the list – which includes four KKK groups, three anti-Muslim and one black separatist group – may have been in existence prior to 2016 but inactive in terms of monitoring.
Between 2000 and 2016, the overall number of hate groups in Michigan rose from 14 to 28, with there being the most active groups in 2010 with 35 groups. That increase followed a national trend in the rise of hate groups since the turn of the century, driven in part by anger over Latino immigration and demographic projections showing that whites will no longer hold majority status in the country by about 2040.
"That rise accelerated in 2009, the year President (Barack) Obama took office, but declined after that, in part because large numbers of extremists were moving to the web and away from on-the-ground activities," the SPLC said. "In the last two years, in part due to a presidential campaign that flirted heavily with extremist ideas, the hate group count has risen again."
Included in the most recent rise are new numbers of "anti-Muslim," black separatist and some other groups while others have declined. For instance, the number of Neo-Nazi groups in Michigan dropped from 11 in 2007 to four in 2016, due in part to larger groups essentially absorbing some smaller ones. The numbers reflect the actual number of groups in the state, not necessarily the number of members of any one group or category.
Also, not all "groups" are actual groups, but may include a single individual, or a blog, website or business. For instance, NS Publications
, based in Wyandotte, is listed by the SPLC as a Neo-Nazi hate group. The group is a website and online source of National Socialism materials available to purchase....continued on page 2