At least 27 “hate groups” are operating in Alabama, according to Birmingham’s Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit that claims it is “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.”
The center has various categories for the 27 groups, which are part of 917 designated groups nationwide, like Neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, Racist Skinheads, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBT and Black Separatists among other categories.
The list is compiled as part of the Hatewatch project and designates a hate group as an organization with “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
“Over the course of a year, we have a team of investigators that scours the internet for racist publications and real world activities to find out which groups exist, which groups are still active and which groups come along,” said Ryan Lenz, a senior investigative reporter for the SPLC’s Hatewatch project.
But not everyone agrees with the SPLC’s “hate” classification of the 917 groups.
Some critics of the SPLC say the group’s activism biases how it categorizes certain groups. Many mainstream conservative groups, such as the Family Research Council, the Pacific Justice Institute and the Alliance Defending Freedom were put on the SPLC list.
“Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center doing this? It’s simple. They want to vilify and isolate anyone that doesn’t agree with their very extremist leftist policy and ideology,” Brad Dacus president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which specializes in religious-liberty cases, told CNN. “This isn’t about defending civil rights; this is about attacking civil rights.”
Data for the “Hate Map” list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law-enforcement reports, sources from the field and news reports, the SPLC says.