Southern Poverty Law Center reports uptick in white nationalist groups, warns of violence

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported an uptick in white nationalist groups and an increased threat of violence in the country, according to the group’s report released Wednesday.

The group’s annual report, which counts far-right extremist groups, showed the number of white nationalist groups reached 155 in 2019. Since 2017, there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of these groups, some of which are calling for bloodshed and a race war. 

Several of these groups identify themselves as “accelerationists," who believe "mass violence is necessary to bring about the collapse of our pluralistic society,” according to the report. 

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“Much of the movement’s energy lies in the growing accelerationist wing, which, for the most part, is organized in informal online communities rather than formal groups,” the report continues.

Other groups identify as “mainstreamers” or the “dissident right” and attempt to move mainstream politics to accept white supremacist ideas. 

Overall, the report says the number of hate groups reduced by 8 percent, to 940, in 2019 after reaching its record high of 1,020 in 2018. But the center says the decrease “does not reflect a significant diminishment of the radical right.”

The SPLC highlighted an increase in hate groups since President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE took office in 2017, calling the president “an avatar” for the white nationalists’ “grievances.”

“Trump didn’t create the fear of nonwhite immigrants but rather harnessed it to win the White House in 2016 and continues to nurture it by fanning the flames of resentment within the most extreme elements of the Republican base,” the report says.

White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Associated Press that Trump “has repeatedly condemned racism, bigotry, and violence of all forms.” He called the SPLC a “far-left smear organization that only wants to libel, slander, and defame this president with its lies.” 

“Their comments are disgusting, particularly while the president demonstrates unprecedented leadership to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Deere said.

Critics of the center accuse it of using overly broad criteria to define hate groups, as some groups have unsuccessfully sued. The organization defines a hate group as one that “has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”