Why Hate Groups Continue to Exist in 2013

Hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan are no longer a violent threat, but anti-government groups are. 

Posted: 05/24/2013 01:21 PM EDT

Fifty years ago, African-Americans were targets of the Ku Klux Klan’s violent hate agenda as the Civil Rights movement gained steam in desegregating public institutions across the South.

The Birmingham church bombings, which killed four little girls in 1963, was one of the most violent crimes the Ku Klux Klan has been responsible for in attacking Black Americans (on Friday, the president signed a bill designating the Congressional Gold Medal commemorating the lives of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing).

In 2013, the Ku Klux Klan is still active and fighting to hold on to the legacy of their forefathers. Triple Hate, a new VICE documentary, profiles a recent KKK rally against the Memphis city council’s decision to rename Confederate parks. 

But why are groups like the KKK still holding on to the past? According to Bill Nigut, Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, the issues of the KKK are deeper than just wanting to defend their history and keep the Confederacy alive.

“They are venting their anger and frustration. They are looking to blame people for issues in their own lives,” says Nigut. “It is not surprising that in a time of economic uncertainty there are people looking to blame other people for their own problems.”

During the rally, other hate groups joined with the KKK, including the National Social­ist Move­ment (NSM), a neo-Nazi group, and the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations.

“That’s unusual. They usually don’t join the Klans. This was an opportunity for them to come together to feel empowered," said Nigut.

Nigut says that groups like the KKK are no longer violent threats as their goals have become more political in the present day. “What they believe is so ridiculous that it is not worth showing up to dignify their protest. Refuse to acknowledge them. Don’t go near this kind of thing.”

Meanwhile, other hate groups, described as anti-government “patriot groups,” have been on the rise since the election of President Obama in 2008, according to a study issued in March by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The number of ant-government "patriot" organizations reached an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012.

Some are part of the sovereign citizens’ movement that only recognizes their town sheriffs as legal government. “There are some loose-knit organizations who are still violent and on the rise but target government officials and law enforcement,” Nigut explains. 



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 (Photo:  Karin ZEITVOGEL/AFP/Getty Images)

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