Annual report says there are 8 active 'hate groups' in Minnesota


There were eight active "hate groups" in Minnesota last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate map released earlier this month.

There were 784 such groups that were active in the United States in 2014, down from the 939 "hate groups" active the year before, according to a news release for SPLC's annual Intelligence Report.

The 17 percent decline in extremist groups doesn't tell the whole story, Mark Potok, senior fellow at SPLC, said in the release.

He says extremists are leaving groups for the "anonymity of the Internet" and are also "increasingly acting alone" instead of with an organized collective.

Potok says the drop in groups hasn't resulted in a drop in violence.

What constitutes a 'hate group?'

SPLC (which is a traditionally left-leaning organization) names groups that they say "lie and demonize" a specific population. For example, SPLC doesn't list groups that don't support gay marriage – instead it lists anti-LGBT groups that make false claims about the gay population, a spokesperson with SPLC told BringMeTheNews.

In 2012, a spokesperson of one of the groups the SPLC named told the Star Tribune the law center itself was "hateful."

In response to the SPLC's map, the American Family Association unveiled a Bigotry Map to pinpoint the locations of groups that "openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith."

There are seven in Minnesota that made the Bigotry Map:

The Red River Free Thinkers, Freedom From Religion Foundation affiliate in Grand Rapids and Duluth, Minnesota Atheists, Atheists for Human Rights, Campus Atheists Secularists and Humanists and Americans United.

Here's a look at the eight active groups in Minnesota the SPLC classifies as "hate groups," along with some of the public information provided by and known about each group – plus, in some cases, previous responses from groups included on the list.

The Star Tribune in its earlier article noted the SPLC's criteria for picking its groups wasn't very specific.

Aryan Strikeforce

The SPLC says the Aryan Strikeforce is a racist skinhead group that is known for violence and vandalism against minorities.

The Aryan Strikeforce, an international group that has a presence in Minnesota, has certain member qualifications that include not doing drugs and being "required to show how far their loyalty to the Aryan Strikeforce will take them."

On its website, the group has "urged eradication of all ethnic minorities," according to a 2010 story by The Telegraph. That phrase is no longer used on the site however.

Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ

The SPLC calls the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ a black separatist group.

The group has locations around the country, including Minneapolis, and is one of the largest Black Hebrew Israelite organizations in the U.S.

These organizations believe slaves were God's chosen people – the true Hebrews, SPLC notes. Such organizations have been compared by white supremacist leaders as their "black counterpart" – generally opposing integration and racial intermarriage, and wanting separate institutions for black people in the U.S.

Members of the Minneapolis congregation of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ have demonstrated outside college campuses and handed out fliers in the past, City College News, the student newspaper at MCTC, reported in 2012.

National Socialist Movement

The National Socialist Movement, which has a presence in Minneapolis, formed in 1974 and has been labeled a neo-Nazi group by SPLC for its hatred of people of the Jewish faith and love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

The NSM's core beliefs include promoting white separation; defending the rights of white people everywhere; preserving European culture and heritage and strengthening family values. It also aims to give Americans another choice when electing a political party – the NSM says it combines socialism and capitalism that will help America.

A spokesman for the organization disputes the NPLC's description of it as a hate group.

"Our organization is about self-preservation of our own people and the promotion and advancement of it, he told the Star Tribune when they were listed in 2012 as well.

Parents Action League

Parents Action League is labeled by the SPLC as anti-LGBT.

The Champlin-based organization is made up of people in Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 who "want to ensure that our schools remain focused on core academics and that parental rights are respected and upheld in the school environment."

Parents Action League debuted on SPLC's map for being anti-gay in 2012, City Pages reported. The group has been a big advocate in the school district, including pushing for students in the district be referred to ex-gay therapy resources, the publication said.

The SPLC said the Parent Action League spreads "damaging propaganda about the gay community," and describes gays and lesbians as "promiscuous, dysfunctional, unhealthy," according to the Star Tribune.

Laurie Thompson, a leader of the group, also questioned the "hate group" label in an email to the Star Tribune.

"How does being pro family/pro parental rights constitute a group as a hate group?" she wrote.

Remnant Press

The Remnant Press is a national Catholic newspaper founded in 1967 in Forest Lake. It's a "traditional Catholic Resistance" newspaper that fights against the changes being made in the Catholic church, according to its website.

Remnant Press says modernization of the Catholic church and changes in Mass have led to "widespread loss of faith among Catholics."

SPLC calls Remnant Press a radical traditional Catholicism group, claiming not only are these groups anti-Semitic, but they also have extremely conservative views on women in the church. These ideologies have been rejected by the Vatican, and 70 million mainstream American Catholics, SPLC notes.

Vinlanders Minnesota

Vinlanders Minnesota is the St. Paul arm of the national Vinlanders Social Club that was formed in 2003 by a group of former members and associates of the Hammerskins, SPLC says.

Vinlanders is one of the larger skinhead groups in the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League notes. Vinlanders are known for a reputation of drinking, brawling and following a racist version of Odinism, a form of ancient paganism practiced by Vikings, SPLC says.

The number of Vinlanders has been on the decline in recent years, SPLC notes. In 2011, The Associated Press detailed the story of one of the group's members who underwent dozens of surgeries to remove tattoos in an attempt to move forward from his racist past.

Weisman Publications

Weisman Publications is an independent publisher and bookseller based in Apple Valley that aims to help people "seek out the truth and find information ... without relying on establishment sources."

It claims to offer "material on historical facts concealed by the educational system, controversial issues suppressed by corrupt politics, forgotten legal rights, insights to our heritage and culture, scriptural truths that have been corrupted by mainline churches, etc."

SPLC considers Weisman Publications a Christian identity group, calling the Christian identity movement "one of the strangest" of all the white racists in America that has created "a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology," SPLC notes.

You Can Run

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, a youth ministry group based in Annandale, is probably one of the most well-known groups on SPLC's hate map.

Bradlee Dean, an ordained preacher, radio host, columnist and drummer in a Christian rock band, founded the organization with the mission of "re-shaping America by redirecting future generations to our Judeo-Christian heritage through education and media" through assemblies at schools.

These assemblies have been detailed in Dean's documentary series, "My War."

The group is known to have anti-gay viewpoints, which sparked criticism when Rep. Michele Bachmann and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer supported the group.

Hate crimes in Minnesota

From 2004 through 2012, SPLC lists 59 incidents of hate-related crimes in Minnesota, many of which were related to vandalism, threats and harassment.

In 2011, law enforcement agencies nationwide reported 6,222 hate crime incidents, the FBI says. The incidents included reports of murder, rape, assault, vandalism and intimidation, the report shows.

The Department of Justice says nearly two of three hate crimes go unreported to police, The Associated Press reported in 2013.

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