From 2001 through 2011, the number of hate groups active in America skyrocketed from 602 to 1018. Largely extremist and right-wing in nature, these organizations target immigrants, LGBT communities, people of color, and religious minorities. And yet, even as these groups have proliferated, efforts to monitor and track them have stagnated. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security closed down the team that tracked violent right wing groups in the wake of conservative backlash to a report issued by the DHS describing how extreme right wing domestic terrorist groups looked to take advantage of the election of the first African American president and the economic downturn to bolster recruitment. The DHS report further highlighted the interest of right wing extremist groups in recruiting military veterans because of their combat experience.
Unfortunately many of the potential threats described in the report have borne out. Since the termination of the team, violent right wing extremists have killed a family, police officers, a doctor, a security guard, and religious minorities. The most recent well-known act of right extremist violence was the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin last August where a white supremacist with a military background shot and killed six worshippers and wounded three others.
It is clear that the federal government has an essential role to play in thwarting domestic terrorism and to do so must understand right wing violent extremism.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund invites you to join us for a conversation on the rise of right wing extremism and the policies needed to reduce and prevent extremist violence with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Daryl Johnson, former analyst at the Department of Homeland Security and owner at DTAnalytics, Amardeep Singh, Programs Director at the Sikh Coalition, and Ben Armbruster, National Security Editor at Think Progress. The conversation will be moderated by Henry Fernandez, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.