Florida among states with most hate groups
Southern Poverty Law Center measures hate, extremism
Florida was the third state -- after Texas and California -- with the most hate groups in the country last year, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report released Wednesday.
There were 58 active hate groups in Florida and 892 nationwide, according to The Year In Hate and Extremism report. SPLC spokesman Mark Potok said that frustrations over the police shootings of black men and conflicts over the Confederate flag prompted both white supremacists and black separatist groups to grow.
"While most categories of hate groups declined, there were significant increases among Klan groups," Potok said.
The majority of the "hate groups" that made the list in Florida were black separatists -- there were 22. The Klan also had a presence with five groups. The others hate groups, according to the report, included five neo-Nazi, five white nationalists, seven racist skinheads, two neo-confederate and 12 other hate groups.
Potok also said that during the second half of the year, Donald Trump and other Republican candidates may have contributed to hateful rhetoric during the electoral contest.
"Trump's description of undocumented Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers and culminating, arguably, with his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration," Potok said. "
The Catholic Action Resource Center in Orlando, The Florida Family Association in Tampa, Bill Keller Ministries in St. Petersburg, Insight USA in Longwood and Sharkhunters International in Hernando, made it to the list for having a "hateful doctrine."
The American College of Pediatricians in Gainesville, The D. James Kennedy Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, the Liberty Counsel in Orlando made the list for their attacks on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
Floridians for Immigration Enforcement in Pompano Beach made the list as a "nativist" extremist group known for confronting suspected undocumented migrants. Irving Books, a group of followers of the English author and Holocaust denier David John Cawdell Irving, remains active in Key West
There were two neo-Confederate groups in Jacksonville: The League of the South and the Southern National Congress. Both groups want a "race war." The anti-Muslim groups, Citizens for National Security in Boca Raton, Straight Way and More in Venice and The United West in Lake Worth, made it to the list for spreading
There were a handful of hateful incidents that made the news last year.
Remember the gun shop owner who banned Muslims from his store? He was Andy Hallinan. A month after declaring his Florida Gun Supply store north of Tampa was a "Muslim Free Zone" he partnered with George Zimmerman to sell prints of the Confederate flag. He also offered a "Muslim" discount during the week of September 11.
About a month later in Jacksonville, a man distributed Ku Klux Klan fliers with anti-immigrant messages.
In November, a family returned home to bullets lodged in their house in Orange County. A gunman shot at a woman leaving a mosque in Tampa. And in December, a man planned to attack the Islamic Center of Palm Beach, police said.
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