Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Laura Duffy, U.S. Attorney, San Diego Region
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center
There are 13 active hate groups in San Diego County, four of which are white supremacist groups, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The center tracks hate groups in its annual Intelligence Report, "The Year in Hate & Extremism." Heidi Beirich, the director of the project, told KPBS Midday Edition that the number of hate groups in the U.S. has doubled over the past decade.
This week, Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, reported a slight decrease in hate crimes in 2011, down from 1,107 to 1,060. The largest number of hate crimes in 2011 were committed against African Americans, while hate crimes against Latinos decreased by 43 percent.
Beirich said those numbers sound right, but added hate crimes based on religion have increased. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks extremist groups like Neo-Nazis and skinheads because they have potential for violence.
Statewide hate groups also have members in San Diego. As reported in San Diego CityBeat, American Third Position, a white-nationalist political group, has spread to San Diego County.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy told KPBS that hate groups cannot be prosecuted on speech alone.
"There needs to be more conduct, the threats, the acts, the intimidation, the harassment," she said.
At that point, the FBI and federal government become involved, she said.
The August shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was branded a hate crime because the shooter, Wade Michael Page, was revealed to have ties to white supremacist groups and to be a leader in a skinhead band called End Apathy.
In July, a concert for white supremacist bands was held in El Cajon.
"The Summer of Hate concert was organized by the Western Hammerskins, the Southern California branch of The Hammerskin Nation, which is considered by many to be the most powerful and best-organized skinhead group in the United States," according to San Diego CityBeat.
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.