White Nationalist Groups Are on the Rise: Report

By Shani Saxon Mar 20, 2020

Civil rights organization The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on March 18 released its annual “The Year in Hate and Extremism” study for 2019. Fueled by the 2016 election of Donald Trump, hate groups in 2019 saw a 55 percent increase over 2017. In total there were 940 hate groups operating across the United States last year, slightly down from "the all-time high of 1,020 in 2018," according to an emailed summary of the report. 

“Make no mistake: We have a crisis of hate and extremism in our country—and the toxic ideas propagated by these hate groups not only lead to violence but erode the very foundations of our democracy,” said SPLC spokesperson Lecia Brooks in a statement. “The attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Poway, California, are stark reminders of the serious threat posed by white supremacist ideology and those it motivates to act. Each of these attacks—as well as thousands of hate crimes across the country—was inspired by white supremacist propaganda.”

The study also points to a 43 percent spike in anti-LGBTQ hate groups, which "rose from 49 in 2018 to 70 last year." The summary states, "The Trump administration has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ leaders and their agendas, enacting numerous policies targeting the rights of LGBTQ people. President Trump, once again, lent the legitimacy of the White House to hate groups like the Family Research Council when he spoke at its annual Values Voter Summit last October."

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in an emailed statement that it’s extremely important to highlight the rise of anti-LQBTQ violence as shown in this new report. “The resurgence of these groups poses a real danger to LGBTQ people and to the progress we have made, which feels increasingly precarious in the face of this administration’s shocking support for anti-LGBTQ hate groups and apparent determination to roll back even the most basic legal protections for LGBTQ people," he said. "Now more than ever, we must push back against these hateful narratives and call on elected officials and others to stand up for our common humanity.”  

Anti-immigrant hate groups also saw a small, but notable increase, according to the report. They went from "17 in 2018 to 20 in 2019." Erika Pinheiro, director of litigation and policy for Al Otro Lado, said in a statement that the country can thank the Trump administration for fueling the anti-immigration movement. “This past year, the Trump administration went to violent and illegal lengths to keep black, brown and poor immigrants from coming to the United States,” she said. “In 2019, the administration introduced several new immigration policies that effectively ended access to the U.S. asylum system at our southern border."

Eric Ward, executive director at Western States Center, said in a statement that the results of this study should not be taken lightly. “Inclusive democracy is in the crosshairs of hate and bigotry," he said. White nationalists no longer seek to simply spread their views—they are committed to seizing the power of the state. Civil society must be properly equipped to respond to this threat and combat the surge in white nationalist organizing and violence. The ‘Year in Hate’ is a vital tool for assessing these challenges and planning an effective response.”

Click here to read the full report.