(For the main story on the increase of hate groups and incidents in Wisconsin, click here.
By Mukhtar Ibrahim, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks “hate” groups nationwide, has identified nine such groups operating in Wisconsin. It defines these groups as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” The SPLC says it makes the designation based on the groups’ publications and websites, news reports and information from police and others.
Membership levels in and activities of these groups can be hard to track because some of them operate without centralized leadership, fall apart quickly and may function entirely online.
Here is the 2017 list:
Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC
This motorcycle club is part of the Aryan Nations, an anti-Semitic white supremacist group founded in the 1970s by Richard Butler, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center called “the eye of the white supremacist storm.”
In 2000, the group started to crumble after it was bankrupted by a civil lawsuit brought by the SPLC. Butler’s death, in 2004, further weakened the Aryan Nations.
Traditionalist Youth Network
However, one of the founders, Matt Parrott, said it is not a hate group. “We’re a non-violent, non-supremacist, non-hateful identitarian nationalist project,” he said
White Boy Society
White Boy Society is a “biker brotherhood” that aims to protect the heritage of white people. According to its website, which has not been updated since 2009, the White Boy Society claims it is “not a hate group or a supremacy group. We do not want nor intend to rule supreme over any other race or culture. We know that if the white race is to survive we must separate and rule over our own destiny.”
White Devil Social Club
White Devil Social Club is a neo-Nazi group, which the SPLC says “perceive(s) ‘the Jew’ as their cardinal enemy.”
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam makes the list because of ”its theology of innate black superiority over whites and the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric of its leaders,” the SPLC said. In Wisconsin, it is based in Milwaukee. In a statement, the Nation of Islam pointed to a column that stated the “hate” designation “is the habitual misnomer used to discredit and isolate a religious group with an impeccable track record of good works and service, particularly to the black community and other oppressed and marginalized communities throughout the country.”
Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology
The Shawano-based Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, founded by Rama Chandra Behera, is a reclusive religious organization. According to a 2011 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profile, Behera converted from Hinduism to Christianity and then an “idiosyncratic version of Judaism” and now goes by the name Avraham Cohen. The SPLC categorizes the anti-Catholic group as a “general hate” organization.
Pilgrims Covenant Church
The Pilgrims Covenant Church in Monroe is a religious organization that “demonizes LGBT people as threats to children, society and often public health,” according to the SPLC. Its website also warns against Catholic teachings. But the organization led by pastor Ralph Ovadal says its main goal is to preach the “word of God” and, “Our convictions and beliefs are consistent with historic, evangelical Protestantism.”
New Order is a neo-Nazi group based in Milwaukee that calls members “heirs” of Adolf Hitler who support an all-white society. Martin Kerr, New Order’s chief of staff, claimed it is not a hate group. “We advocate in favor of our own people, not against other races or ethnicities,” Kerr said in an email. “We consider the White people of the world to be a gigantic family of racial brothers and sisters, united by ties of common ancestry and common heritage. Being for our own family does not mean that we hate other families.”
Stahlhelm Records of Milwaukee claims to be “Wisconsin’s only dangerous underground” music distributor that is “arming the elite of the elite with sounds of the eventual revolution.” According to the SPLC, such music distributors traffic in “white power” music that is often used to recruit young people to the “radical right.”
The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.