SPLC Urges U.S. Government to Take Domestic Extremism Seriously
In testimony submitted to Durbin’s panel today, Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, urged federal vigilance in the face of what strong evidence suggests is a rising threat.
Earlier this year, the SPLC reported that the ranks of far-right extremist groups had swelled to record levels in the past three years, a period coinciding with the Obama administration. The SPLC is tracking 1,018 hate groups - a 69 percent increase since 2000. But the most explosive, recent growth has come among antigovernment “Patriot” groups, which have increased by 755% in the past three years - from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,274 in 2011.
Members of both hate groups and Patriot groups have been arrested or otherwise implicated in terror plots in recent months.
Wade Michael Page, the shooter in the Aug. 5 attack in Wisconsin, was a musician who performed with a variety of white supremacist bands and also a member of the Northern Hammerskins, a faction of one of the most violent, racist skinhead gangs in the country. On Aug. 5, he walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, and killed six Sikhs and wounded four other people, including a police officer, before shooting himself in the head.