WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says the number of hate groups in the U.S. is on the rise–up seven percent from 2017 to 2018.
Richard Cohen is the president of the SPLC. The watchdog group identified 1,020 hate groups operating in the country last year–the highest number they’ve ever counted.
“We saw a big increase in the number of these white nationalist groups,” Cohen said.
This week, the SPLC released their annual hate group count as part of their Spring 2019 Intelligence Report. The report says 2018 was the fourth straight year of growth of hate groups–what they say is a 30 percent increase “roughly coinciding with Trump’s campaign and presidency — following three consecutive years of decline near the end of the Obama administration.”
The SPLC says it also found a spike in the number of domestic terrorism cases.
“You worry about hate violence, you worry about the coarsening of our society, our social fabric has become frayed,” Cohen said.
The SPLC blames political rhetoric–including comments made by President Trump–for the increase.
The White House did not immediately respond to the report.
The FBI released its own report on hate crimes in November. The bureau says it found the number of hate crimes is on the rise, jumping 17 percent between 2016 to 2017.
“There’s no region or country that is immune from hate, if you look at the map it’s really across the nation,” Cohen cautioned.
The “hate map” is interactive–you can filter by ideology or by state. The SPLC site says it tracked 75 hate groups in Florida for 2018.
In the past, critics have accused the SPLC’s definition of hate as being too broad. But the group says it stands behind its data.