"Patriot" Hate Groups In D.C. On The Rise

Washington City Paper/March 7, 2012

Of the dozen recognized hate groups in D.C., there's one chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, a couple of black supremacist outfits, and a rising number of so-called "patriot" organizations, according to a forthcoming report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

We talked to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at SPLC, who notes that this is the third year in a row that the country has seen an increase in hate groups. While Potok says the KKK chapter is "extremely inactive," there's a marked increase in patriot groups that eschew government intervention.

Patriot groups are generally defined by the SPLC as organizations that are "opposed to the 'New World Order,' engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines."

While many of patriot groups SPLC lists are militias, the seven that SPLC counts in D.C. aren't (we can probably thank the city's heavily Democratic base and tight gun controls for that).

"The groups in D.C. do not include any militias and do not engage in paramilitary activities," Potok says. "So they are different than many of the groups in rural America, where patriot groups are much more common and also more active." Potok says they don't see militia groups in urban areas because they do paramilitary training in the woods.

There was also a significant rise in anti-immigrant vigilante groups in starting in 2009. SPLC calculated an 80 percent increase in anti-immigration outfits, making 136 new groups. D.C. only has one anti-immigration group the center recognizes as a hate group: the suit-and-tie Federation for American Immigration Reform. This isn't anything new, they've been around since 1979.

"The most active vigilante groups operate along the border with Mexico," Potok said. "In the District, the nativist groups tend to be policy groups like FAIR."

Potok also says that many area hate outfits, such as the so-called "race-realist" American Renaissance in Virginia, tend to have a "gentler white supremacy."

"Gentle" may be the wrong adjective to use for white supremacists, but we'll take subtler.

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