Founded in 1971 as a civil rights law firm, the Southern Poverty Law Center has become recognized as America’s foremost authority on ‘hate groups.’ Its history has included high profile legal victories against racist groups such as Ku Klux Klan and the White Aryan Resistance. The organization also works closely with the police, conducting training seminars for law enforcement agencies to enable them to better understand how to identify and tackle the threat of hate groups.
The SPLC can also boast for being one of the nation’s top fund-raising machines. Between 2000 and 2003, SPLC contributions and interest totalled more than $127,000,000.
In recent years the SPLC has lost its focus, having run out of legitimate racist threats with which to scare their donor base into contributing. Indeed, FBI data that was collected by state and local law-enforcement agencies show a dramatic decrease in the number of hate crimes. In 1995, hate crimes totaled 7,974. In 2007, 12 years later, that number dropped by 4%, despite the fact that the US population rose 16% during that period.
While hate crimes are waning, at least according to the FBI, the SPLC tells a different story. Indeed, according to the SPLC’s latest Intelligence Report, there has been more than a 50% increase since 2000.
The law centre has supplemented the decline in actual hate groups by targeting Christian organizations and labelling them as such.
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