The annual list of hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows Virginia as having the sixth highest number in the country in 2016, after California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. The SPLC attributes a dramatic increase nationally since 2000 to anger about Latino immigration and changing U.S. demographics. In addition, the number of anti-Muslim groups in the U.S. tripled last year, the SPLC says. Virginia State Police figures for 2015 also show a rise in reported hate crime offenses.
What is a hate group?
As defined by the SPLC, it's an organization with beliefs and practices that attack or malign an entire class of people.
How is the designation made?
The list is compiled using law enforcement and news reports, identified groups’ websites and publications, and other sources. Activities can include rallies, marches and speeches.
39 active hate groups in Virginia in 2016. That's up 22% from 2015 and 3% nationally.
What about hate crimes?
Hate crimes are recorded by Virginia State Police when an investigation reveals that the offender's actions in a case such as an assault were at least in part motivated by bias against race, religion, disability, ethnicity or sexual orientation.