Fifteen hate groups reside in Wisconsin

By: - August 12, 2019 3:40 pm
DRAKETOWN, GA Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

DRAKETOWN, GA Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Two years ago today — Aug. 12, 2017 — a neo-Nazi sped his car into a group of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others.

This week, copies of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “Hate Map” tracking hate groups throughout the United States, arrived in mailboxes of its supporters.

In Wisconsin, SPLC is now tracking 15 hate groups. This includes anti-Muslim groups, neo-Nazis, an anti-LGBT church, Black Nationalist and White Nationalist organizations. Seven of the 15 organizations are statewide. Others in Wisconsin are located in Monroe, Milwaukee, Oostburg, Fitchburg, Hudson and Shawano.

The groups named by SPLC as active in Wisconsin include Act for America, The Right Stuff, American Freedom Party, Nation of Islam, Citizens for the St. Croix Valley, Pilgrims Covenant Church, White Boy Society and New Order.

The 15 named organizations puts the number of Wisconsin groups higher than neighboring states Minnesota and Iowa, but at about half of the number operating in Illinois and Michigan. The number nationwide totals 1,020 SPLC-cited hate groups. 

The map, updated earlier this year for all of 2018, shows a 30% rise over the four-year time span coinciding with President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency.

SPLC communications associate Bob Hopkinson notes that his organization’s expertise is primarily specific to groups and ideologies rather than individual states, but he points to another map where SPLC tracks hate instances by state. The ‘Map of white supremacist flyering in the U.S.‘ gleans its information  from news articles, social media and tips submitted to the SPLC on hateful flyers and banners displayed and distributed.

On this map of overt displays, Wisconsin accounts for 27 out of 2445 incidents nationwide, with a spike in incidents in  April and May of 2019. Since the beginning of 2018, 27 flyers were reported in Wisconsin, three of them displayed on college campuses. The number includes 19 from Patriot Front and three from Identity Evropa.

“We’re at a particularly dangerous time in our country,” wrote SPLC’s Chief Development Officer Ed Lord in a July 29 letter sent with the map. “Trump has energized the radical right, and many white supremacists are beginning to lash out in violence…As we approach the 2020 election, I fear that we’ll see more violence like we did in the weeks before the midterms.”

Map of White Supremacist Flyering courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center

And on the two-year anniversary of the Charlottesville homicide, SPLC Interim President Karen Baynes-Dunning released this statement accusing Trump of normalizing hate as a political weapon: 

“Since then, we’ve heard President Trump continue to pour fuel on the growing flames of hate. We’ve heard him continue to feed the grievances of white nationalists by using words that dehumanize and vilify people of color.” 

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications before returning to journalism at the Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.