Report reveals 25 hate groups in Michigan as extremism becomes mainstream

Twenty-five hate groups were active in Michigan last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual report on extremist activity.

The civil rights group saw an 11% drop in active hate groups last year, although researchers said social media allows people to radicalize without officially joining a specific organization. At a press conference on Monday, SPLC researchers said a loose collection of national extremists was gathering new supporters mobilized by false narratives about the presidential election and the white nationalist ideology that has become more mainstream these days. last years.

“I think all of this shows that the far right is not just a collection of groups, but it is really a widespread social movement,” said Cassie Miller, senior research analyst at the SPLC. “The people associated with it really converged around the idea that traditional political channels and democracy itself will no longer allow them to achieve their political goals. Many believe that violence is the only thing that can help them address what they see as perceived threats to the country. “

Related: Who are the Michigan militias? Armed groups of “patriots” resurface in an anti-government climate

The SPLC found 838 active hate groups across the country in 2020 and 566 right-wing anti-government groups, including 169 active militias. The list of hate groups, which largely includes neo-Nazi and white nationalist organizations, has declined from the 940 recorded in 2019 and the record 1,020 in 2018.

There were 27 active hate groups found in Michigan for the 2019 report, two more than in 2020.

The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization with beliefs or practices that slander an entire class of people. The SPLC distinguishes between hate groups and anti-government groups such as armed militias, the latter focusing more on dismantling federal institutions.

Researchers have described a complex web of plots and ideologies that link hate groups with people involved in QAnon and protests against COVID-19 lockdowns or voter fraud. Extremists converge around the idea that democracy has not served their interests, Miller said.

“It was a year where we really saw a blurring of the lines between the mainstream fringe, and even between segments of the extremist movement that did not associate with each other, including hate groups and the grassroots movement. militias, ”Miller said.

The researchers cited the “wood boogaloo” as an example of the abandonment of organized groups. Members of the movement wearing armed Hawaiian shirts are united in their opposition to gun restrictions and believe the country is heading into a violent civil war, but the group does not have a formal leadership structure.

Threats could increase in 2021, said Margaret Huang, SPLC CEO, as a far-right contingent fails to recognize President Joe Biden’s victory. The Department of Homeland Security last week published a national terrorism bulletin warning that far-right extremists pose a continuing threat.

Disinformation campaigns that promoted unproven allegations of electoral fraud led to bloody riots in Washington, DC on January 6. A pro-Trump mob, allegedly instigated by members of far-right groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, stormed the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election.

Wixom resident Michael Foy, 30, was arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers with a hockey stick and climbing inside the closed Capitol building. Federal prosecutors said Foy’s behavior appeared to escalate after he took part in “stop the fly” rallies in Michigan, making the former U.S. Navy one of the most violent participants in the riot though. ‘he was not involved in any specific organization.

Related: Body camera video shows Michigan man attacking police with hockey stick during Captiol riots

Corke said the January 6 riots show how conspiracy theories and misinformation can lead people to take dangerous actions. Images and videos of the riots could serve as a recruiting tool for extremist movements across the country, she said.

“A frightening discovery this year is that it no longer requires formal hierarchical organizations to plan and direct the activity,” she said. “It also showed a blind spot on white supremacy in law enforcement and among policy makers. The upper echelons of those responsible for intelligence gathering and operations with the federal government collapsed on January 6. “

The Biden administration is in the process of creating an assessment on domestic extremism. The National Security Council has established a capacity to focus on domestic violent extremism, according to the White House.

Federal officials have warned of the dangers posed by white supremacist groups for years. In 2017, the FBI reported that white supremacists pose a “persistent threat of deadly violence” that has claimed more lives than any other category of domestic terrorists since 2000.

The Department of Homeland Security reported that 2019 was the deadliest year for domestic extremism in the United States since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The agency did not release data on incidents that occurred in 2020.

Here are hate groups active in Michigan identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center

  • American Freedom Law Center, an anti-Muslim group based in Ann Arbor
  • Blood and Honor Social Club, a group of racist skinheads
  • Christ the King Reformed Church, a white nationalist group in Charlotte
  • Church activist / St. Michael’s Media, an anti-LGBTQ group in Ferndale
  • Folks Front, a neo-Nazi group
  • Gallows Tree Wotansvolk Alliance, a neo-Nazi group based in Grand Rapids
  • Great Millstone, a Detroit-based hate group
  • House of Israel, a Detroit-based hate group
  • Israel United in Crist, a hate group based in Detroit and Grand Rapids
  • Mass Resistance, a Detroit-based anti-LGBTQ group
  • Nation of Islam, a hate group based in Grand Rapids
  • National Reform Party, a white nationalist group
  • National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based in Detroit
  • NS Publications, a neo-Nazi group based in Wyandotte
  • Patriot Front, a white nationalist group
  • Proud Boys, a hate group based in Lansing
  • Sharia Crime Stoppers, an anti-Muslim group based in Mount Clemens
  • Social Contract Press, a white nationalist group based in Petoskey
  • La Base, a white nationalist group
  • Thomas More Law Center, an anti-Muslim group based in Ann Arbor
  • United Nuwaupians Worldwide, a Detroit-based hate group
  • White Rabbit Radio, a white nationalist group based in Dearborn Heights

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