'Patriot' groups doubled in Ohio last year

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'Patriot' groups doubled in Ohio last year

Postby chief joe » Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:21 am

Reflecting a national trend, the number of anti-government "patriot" groups doubled in Ohio between 2009 and 2010, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The conspiracy-minded organizations, which generally view the federal government as their foremost enemy, expanded from 13 to 27 in Ohio, the report says. Nationally, their numbers grew 61 percent, to 824 groups.

"Patriot" groups, including self-styled militias, have grown amid economic frustration and "the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government," the report states.

The report reflects a number of radical-right groups scattered across the state but does not estimate their number of members.

Ohio Homeland Security Executive Director Rob Glenn said the numbers belonging to such groups are limited but that state officials continually are looking for signs that extremists might move from rhetoric to violence.

The Dispatch attempted to contact the Ohio Minutemen Militia, which bills itself as a new statewide group, but received no response to an e-mail seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the number of hate groups devoted to racist causes, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi movement, remained steady in Ohio at 32, according to the annual study by the center, based in Montgomery, Ala.

The list of Buckeye groups includes the American National Socialist Party, Aryan Nation, white-power Skinheads, several Klan chapters and black-separatist Nation of Islam groups.

Two retailers that sell "racist" music, including ISD Records of Lancaster, also made the list. The only hate group listed in Columbus is a Nation of Islam chapter.

Glenn said the state has trained more than 350 police officers to recognize the signs of hate groups and others, including left-wing and radical environmental groups, that might be moving toward violence.

Of foremost concern is "homegrown violent extremism" that constitutes terrorism, he said. "That's what keeps us up at night," Glenn said.

Nationally, the number of hate groups increased 7.5 percent to top 1,000 for the first time, at 1,002, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported.

"Patriot" organizations, hate groups and "native extremist groups" combined grew from 1,753 groups in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010, a 22percent rise.

"Demonizing propaganda and conspiracy theories that made their way from radical fringe into the political mainstream," such as the notion that President Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and is Muslim, have fueled the growth of the groups, said Mark Potok, editor of the center's "Intelligence Report" study.

The number of "native extremist groups," which confront or harass undocumented immigrants and their employers, increased in Ohio by one, to nine groups, between 2009 and 2010, according to the report.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes its mission as fighting hate and bigotry, including the tracking of extremist groups.
Joe Beran
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