Fifteen hate groups reside in Wisconsin

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented a 30% rise in hate groups nationwide

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.” 


  1. People, especially journalists, need to take Southern Poverty Law Center numbers with a very large grain of salt.

    As the article mentions, seven of Wisconsin’s alleged “hate groups” (the SPLC is the sole arbiter of this highly lucrative label) are listed only as “statewide,” meaning that the company does not provide any corroborating information, such as a known city or town, whatsoever, that a journalist or donor could use to verify the claim.

    That’s nearly half the total right off the top. Nationwide, fully 322 of the SPLC’s alleged 1,020 groups are “statewide” phantoms, or one-in-three. We only get to take the SPLC’s word for it that these groups actually exist. That’s not good enough and it certainly isn’t good journalism.

    The SPLC had to reach back four years to cobble together a “30% increase in hate groups,” but over the same time span the number of “statewide” phantoms grew by 84%, jumping by 103 in 2017 alone. Arguably, the SPLC is losing its “hate groups” faster than it can designate them.

    Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter. Make the SPLC show their work. That’s not too much to ask considering the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive each year based on these claims.

    At least three other alleged Wisconsin “groups” are one-man websites, which the SPLC swears it does not count and which very few people would ever have heard of if not for the SPLC’s free publicity.

    Lastly, the article references a letter from the SPLC’s Chief Development Officer Ed Lord. As many people know, “development” is a fancy term for “fundraising.” Mr. Lord is the head fundraiser for the company, which took in over $111 million donor-dollars last year and more than $130 million the year before. SPLC assets now exceed half a billion dollars, and yet Mr. Lord is paid a six-digit salary to convince people to send him more. A review of SPLC online tax records shows that the company spends, on average, 4% of its budget on legal case costs annually and an incredible 41% on fundraising. How much is enough?

    Up until this year, that fundraising letter would have been signed by SPLC founder Morris Dees or company president Richard Cohen. In March of this year, Mr. Cohen had to fire Mr. Dees over decades-long allegations of sexual harassment of SPLC staff. A week later, Mr. Cohen jumped ship because he was responsible for keeping Mr. Dees on the payroll all that time, at about $350,000 a year, and for perpetuating Mr. Dees’ corporate culture at the SPLC, in which minorities were never promoted to senior positions of authority in the company’s 48-year history.

    No doubt next year’s online tax records will reveal that both Mr. Dees and Mr. Cohen will receive their full salaries for this year and probably the following year as well, if SPLC history is any guide.

    SPLC “hate group” numbers are for fundraising, not fact finding. Trust, but verify. That’s what journalism is all about.

  2. Please note that the author of the error-filled diatribe above is allied with the American Freedom Alliance which according to the non-partisan Source Watch site , “The American Freedom Alliance (AFA) claims to be a non-political, non partisan, movement of concerned Americans which identifies threats to western civilization.[1]
    The AFA is anti-climate science, anti-evolution and Islamophobic in its outlook.”

    This is an attempt to lessen the effects of true facts about the rise of hate groups in the United States. If this gentleman, and I use the word loosely, wants to silence the alarm about the rise of these groups, I can only assume he supports their efforts. What he and his fellow White Nationalists support is racism and persecution not unlike what we hear from the White House on a daily basis. We can’t tolerate this activity and can’t leave it unchallenged. This is evil passing itself off as patriotism.


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