What to know about hate groups in U.S., how they are defined

Southern Poverty Law Center lists 917 active hate groups in US, 4 in SA-area

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – The term hate group has been brought to the forefront after the violence in Virginia, where White nationalists and neo-Nazi protestors clashed with counter protestors. Here’s what to know about hate groups and how they are defined in the United States. 

How hate groups are defined 

Hate groups in the U.S. are primarily monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization with "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

Those groups often advocate and practice hatred, hostility or violence toward members of various sectors of society, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation, according to the SPLC.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.

There are several critics of the SPLC that say the group's activism biases how it categorizes certain groups. Many of the listed groups have objected to the designation. 

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How information about hate groups is gathered 

The SPLC publishes a quarterly report that monitors what the organization considers a hate group.

The report, which has been published since 1981, gathers information regarding possible tactics and organizational efforts of various groups.

The report is compiled by scholars and comprehensive sources that study hate groups.

In regards to law enforcement, the FBI does not publish a list of hate groups, but maintains yearly statistics on hate crimes.

Investigations are conducted when a threat of force is made or when the group has the apparent ability and resources to carry out an act that would violate federal law.

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Hate groups on the rise 

The SPLC designates 917 hate groups that are currently operating in the United States.

That number has increased from 784 active hate groups in 2014, and 892 active hate groups in 2015. 

The current number of hate groups is double the number that existed in 1999, but falls short of the high of 1,018 hate groups in 2011. 

A total of 55 hate groups are currently operating in Texas, according to the SPLC’s Hate Map. Four are operational in the San Antonio area. They are:  

  • Atomwaffen Division (NEO-NAZI)
  • ACT for America (ANTI-MUSLIM)
  • Israel United In Christ (BLACK SEPARATIST)
  • Carolynyeager.net in Kerrville (HOLOCAUST DENIAL)  

(Image below via SPLC Hate Map)



Types of hate groups in the U.S. 

There are 10 types of active hate groups in the United States, according to the SPLC.

The highest number of active hate groups are black separatists, Ku Klux Klan and anti-Muslim. Below is the full list from the SPLC. 

  • Black Separatist - 193
  • Ku Klux Klan - 130
  • Anti-Muslim - 101
  • White Nationalist -100
  • General Hate - 100
  • Neo-Nazi - 99
  • Racist Skinhead - 78
  • Anti-LGBT - 52
  • Neo-Confederate - 43
  • Christian Identity - 21


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