Study: Hate Groups Play on Fears

The Associated Press/November 11, 2001

Chicago -- White-supremacist groups based in the Midwest are using the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to recruit new members, according to a study by an anti-racism group.

The Center for New Community, a six-year-old faith-based organization in suburban Oak Park, counts 338 "white nationalist'' groups in 10 Midwestern states.

Some of them are using images of the burning World Trade Center towers to advocate closing America's borders, the group says in a report titled "State of Hate: White Nationalism in the Midwest 2000-2001.''

"These organizations have been responsible for several rallies, public events, distribution of literature and even a few crimes in recent months,'' said Devin Burghart, who directs the center's Building Democracy Initiative. "They're trying to use anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of Sept. 11.''

The Center for New Community cites white supremacist groups in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

The group's study found that in the last year 33 percent of white nationalist groups in the Midwest were actively recruiting young people. That compares to 10 percent in 1998-99, the last time the center studied the region.

The Neo Nazi National Alliance has distributed fliers in the Chicago area that feature the attacks on the World Trade Center and the phrase "Close our Borders!'' and National Alliance members have handed out leaflets blaming the attacks on the Jews, Burghart said.

Members of the World Church of the Creator, based in East Peoria, attended demonstrations in suburban Bridgeview, where hundreds marched on a mosque.

"World Church of the Creator members were out amongst the crowd looking for recruits, handing out literature,'' Burghart said.

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