The recent white supremacy/neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend has left many people astonished and disturbed, and perhaps asking to what extent such hatred still exists in America and in their home state.
While some states have fewer known hate groups than others, and much of that is arguably based on population, Michigan, according to records by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has 28 identified hate groups, roughly half in Southeast Michigan alone. The SPLC tracks hate group activity and seeks to put an end to it nationwide.
Among the Great Lakes States region, Michigan comes in fifth out of seven states. In first place is New York with 47, followed by Pennsylvania (40), Ohio (35) and Illinois (32). Indiana is closely behind Michigan with 26, and Minnesota has the fewest number of hate groups in the Great Lakes region at 10.
Overall, the SPLC estimates there are 917 hate groups nationwide. The organization defines a hate group as one having beliefs or practices that “attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” Its list is compiled using hate group publications and websites, as well as citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.
The groups across Michigan the SPLC has identified are:
- Secure Michigan (anti-Muslim) in New Baltimore;
- All Eyes on Egipt Bookstore (black separatist) in Detroit;
- National Socialist Movement (neo-Nazi) in Detroit ;
- Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (black separatist) in Detroit;
- Nation of Islam (black separatist, Nation of Islam) in Detroit;
- NS Publications (neo-Nazi) in Wyandotte;
- White Rabbit Radio (white nationalist) in Dearborn Heights;
- American Nazi Party (neo-Nazi) in Westland;
- Deir Yassin Remembered (Holocaust denial) in Ann Arbor;
- Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas (white nationalist) in Clinton Township;
- Ku Klos Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Battle Creek;
- Nation of Islam (black separatist, Nation of Islam) in Benton Harbor;
- Yahweh’s Truth (anti-Semitic) in Linwood;
- TC Family (anti-LGBT) in Traverse City;
- Militant Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Alpena;
- Social Contract Press (white nationalist) in Petoskey; and
- White Boy Society (white nationalist) – statewide
Michigan also hosts Kyle Bristow, who founded the now-defunct Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University, one of the few college groups to ever be labeled by the SPLC as a hate group. The group and Bristow gained notoriety in the mid-2000s for trying to host a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” and seeking to invite white nationalists to speak on campus. He remains part of the SPLC’s “extremist profiles,” alongside the likes of former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke and Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer.
Bristow, now a licensed attorney in Michigan and Ohio, more recently founded the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, which has not only issued letters of support for the alt-right, including the rally held over the weekend in Charlottesville, but planned to “financially support” the rally, according to its website.
In 2015, the most recent year in which the Michigan State Police has released hate/bias crime data (Editor’s note: The Great Lakes Beacon has repeatedly sought 2016 statistics but has repeatedly been told they are not yet ready for publication), there were nearly 400 reported hate crimes involving 495 victims, 388 known offenders and resulting in 495 offenses (a victim of multiple hate crime offenses is counted for each offense). The largest percentage of hate crimes reported were racial in nature, and the second-most reported were sexual orientation and religion.
But not all hate crimes are reported, and certainly not all are reported specifically as a hate crime instead of, for instance, a basic aggravated assault.
In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has recently indicated to Michigan, as well as other states, that its reporting of such crimes could be more robust given the subjective nature of how hate crimes are