Post election atmosphere fuels Alt-Right groups

In the liberal Bay Area, people are not often exposed to ideas presented by the Alt-Right. However, that doesn’t mean that these ideals aren’t present in the Bay Area community. Many anticipate seeing a rise in activity in the Bay Area hate groups during the Trump presidency.

When asked about hate groups in the Bay Area, many people here were unable to share experiences and had no knowledge of their existence.

“I couldn’t imagine there be any hate groups in the Bay Area. It just seems like such an accepting place,” junior Maria Barker said.

As a matter of fact, California has the most active hate groups in the country with 79 according to the March Intelligence Report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the Bay Area alone there are eight hate groups, while in the entire state of Montana there are just 10.

Outside the Bay Area, another cluster of hate operates out of the Sacramento area, including two anti-LGBT groups, a white nationalist outfit, and an equal-opportunity “general hate” group.

Overall, America has witnessed a modest increase in hate groups during 2016 from 892 to 917. However, the number of anti-Muslim groups has nearly tripled from 34 to 101.

Along with the resurgence of hate groups comes the increased activity of social justice organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the SPLC.

Founded in 1971 as a civil rights law firm, the SPLC became a clan watch group after they were attacked by the KKK in the mid-1980s. Their three main objectives are to act as a civil rights law firm, track trends in hate groups, and to educate the public about hate groups.

“Although the number of KKK groups has diminished in the past decade, we have seen enthusiastic support for hate groups post-election, mainly in their recruitment activity,” said Lecia Brooks of the SPLC.

These hate groups have begun to target youth by going to college campuses to speak or protest.

For example, Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on Feb. 1 but the performance was canceled and Yiannopoulos was escorted away after violent protests broke out at the Martin Luther King Student Union.

Another hate group that has affected the Bay Area is the Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi and white supremacist news and commentary site.

According to the SFGate website on Feb. 15, “Andrew Anglin’s Daily Stormer has sought to move from cyberspace to the real world, or what they call ‘meat space,’ and one of the things he’s been doing is forming book clubs to read Nazi literature. That’s what’s been happening in Santa Cruz and Mountain View. And where they are meeting changes day to day,” Ryan Lenz said, an editor with the SPLC.

Brooks states the Alt-Right movement as a rebranding of white supremacy ideals in America, which constitutes a majority of the hate groups seen here today.

“A demographic shift in the United States has begun to cause fear in white nationalist groups as it is predicted that the white race will not be in majority come 2040,” Brooks said.

She also cites the Obama presidency as starting the fear in white nationalist groups.

The SFGate reported that along with the Obama presidency, Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC’s quarterly Intelligence Report, believes the current Trump presidency plays an integral role in the rise of hate in America,

“The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists,” Potok said.

Trump’s nomination for chief strategist, Steve Bannon, formerly ran Breitbart News, a fringe-right website. Potok believes extremists finally have an ally in the White House with Bannon as chief strategist.

Although white supremacy groups may be the majority of hate groups found in the Bay Area that is not to take away from the impact of anti-white groups like the Black Riders Liberation Party based in Oakland.

Alan Schlosser, a senior counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said it perfectly to the SFGate when he stated, “It’s good that there’s sunlight being shown on these groups so they don’t just operate in the shadows.”