A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center puts the number of hate groups at over 1,000 for the first time ever. And you don't have to look far to find them right here in Texoma.
The report is being published in the SPLC journal Intelligence Report. Intelligence Report Director Mark Potok said the rise can be attributed to the down economy and a changing racial demographic across the country.
The report shows a 7.5 percent rise in hate groups nation-wide. And, a state-by-state breakdown shows an active Ku Klux Klan chapter in Wichita Falls. Potok said they use local media reports, law enforcement data and on-the-ground investigating to determine if a hate group is active. He is confident the "group was active last year and, presumably... this year."
But, hate groups are not what concerns Potok most. The report indicates an explosion of anti-government patriot organizations across the country. Those groups increased by 61 percent from 2009 to 2010. The report puts the count at 824 currently.
"I think we're in a period that's similar to the run up to OKlahoma City," said Potok referring to the Oklahoma City Bombing. He said all that's missing is a precipitating event like the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco.
The report also shows modest gains in natavist extremist groups in the US. Those rose from 309 to 319.
In all, Potok said the atmosphere across the country could be nearing a dangerous point. And an event that puts the government in a bad light, could spark an attack. "The sad reality is something like that could come up at any moment," he said. "It doesn't need to be as terrible an event as what happened in Waco."
Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.