Map of Hate Groups for 2018 Released
Listing Anti-Indian Groups Would Increase Accuracy
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released its list of hate groups active around the country in 2018, along with a new interactive map. Overall, SPLC reported a record high number of hate groups (1,020 of them), and 2018 was the fourth straight year the number increased. SPLC noted that the record-breaking number coincides with President Trump fanning the flames of “white resentment” over immigration and the country’s changing demographics. The numbers seem to bear this out. By comparison, the last three years of the Obama Administration had found hate group numbers declining. Overall, hate groups have grown by 30% during Trump’s campaign and presidency. In 2018 alone, white nationalist groups increased by 50%.
“The numbers tell a striking story – that this president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one,” said Heidi Beirich, Director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it – with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”
SPLC listed six hate groups based in Montana during 2018. Aided by our state’s small population, we were, once again, listed as one of the states with the most hate groups per capita. The Network is very familiar with the entities listed by SPLC:
ACT for America Chapter (Whitehall): A chapter of the most prominent anti-Muslim hate group in the country continues in Whitehall. Some of the activists involved with this chapter previously ran a different anti-Muslim group called American Security Rally, which was listed by SPLC in 2017. You can read more about these anti-Muslim groups in our report here.
Last Chance Patriots (Bigfork): The group used to be a chapter of ACT for America but changed its name to focus on more right-wing issues than just Islamophobia. Last Chance Patriots has actively spread disinformation about voter fraud on Indian reservations as it relates to election campaigns involving U.S. Senator Jon Tester. Additionally, the group continually engages in electoral activities that it does not report to the state’s political reporting agency. Last fall, the group helped sponsor a conference bringing together anti-government, anti-Indian, and anti-environmental activists that featured a keynote presentation by Ammon Bundy, a member of the infamous Bundy Family which has engaged in armed standoffs with federal agencies in Nevada and Oregon. You can read more about Last Chance Patriots when it was known as Flathead ACT in this report and about the conference it sponsored here.
Identity Evropa (Billings): This alt-right and white nationalist hate group has conducted literature drops in communities across Montana, including in Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula, Red Lodge, and Whitefish. The group appears to have at least one small cell of activists in the Billings area, and the national group’s focus is recruiting young white men on college campuses.
National Policy Institute (Whitefish): This white nationalist “think tank” is run by the infamous Richard Spencer. Spencer coined the term “alt-right,” which rebranded white supremacy and white nationalism for the social media era. He gained a national profile during the last presidential election cycle by using Trump’s candidacy as a way to mainstream white nationalism. Spencer played an active role in the white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, VA, during which a civil rights activist was murdered. You can read our report about his National Policy Institute here.
Pioneer Little Europe (Kalispell): Pioneer Little Europe refers to a strategy promoted by white nationalists to get supporters to move into a targeted area with the goal of eventually creating an Aryan Homeland at the community level. April Gaede has spearheaded the effort in Kalispell. You can read more about when Pioneer Little Europe started in Montana back in 2009 in this newsletter.
American Freedom Party (Statewide): The group is the latest electoral vehicle created by a group of influential white nationalists. A longtime associate of David Duke helps with its organizing. Based out of New York, the group hopes to recruit like-minded activists to run for office. In Montana, the main contact point was a former Klan member who didn’t pursue recruiting very vigorously and has since left the organization.
The six groups listed this year were comparable to the total of eight in 2017. Pioneer Little Europe, American Freedom Party, and ACT for America were all listed in 2017. In most cases, the differences between the groups listed in 2017 and 2018 are the names of the groups under which the same activists are operating. Mentioned above were the changes in name regarding Last Chance Patriots and American Security Rally. Similarly, Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute is listed in 2018, whereas his publication Radix Journal was listed in 2017. This reflects what the Network has tracked over time – often activists remain in the same communities and switch their organizational affiliations over time.
While SPLC listed six groups for 2018, the total could have been higher if anti-Indian groups were included. The Network published an issue brief last year making the case for categorizing anti-Indian groups as hate groups. We believe the total number of formally-organized hate groups in the state would be at least a dozen if anti-Indian groups were counted, in addition to the state’s major anti-LGBTQ+ group, the Montana Family Foundation. The Montana Family Foundation is listed as one of the Family Research Council’s “State Family Policy Councils,” and SPLC designates the Council a hate group.