The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white nationalism, white supremacy and hate groups, identified 155 white nationalist groups in the U.S. last year, up from 148 in 2018 and a 55 percent increase since 2017, NBC News reports. The center said last August’s mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tx., that left 22 dead was “the worst carnage wrought by domestic extremists” last year. The gunman in the Aug. 3 attack told police that his target was “Mexicans” and that he posted a screed containing white nationalist talking points “on “ethnic displacement” and “race mixing” and refers to immigrants to the United States as “invaders.”
A report by the center says “the most powerful force animating today’s radical right—and stoking the violent backlash—is a deep fear of demographic change,” and the idea that “white genocide” is underway. The center said there is a growing threat from a sector of white supremacists who call themselves “accelerationists” who believe violence is the tool that can counter increasingly pluralistic, democratic governments. Amid the increase in white nationalist groups, there was a dip in hate groups from 1,020 to 940 last year, largely due to a collapse in Neo-Nazi groups and a decline in Ku Klux Klan, Christian identity and neo-Confederate groups the center says. It says the decline of those groups has been replaced with a broader acceptance of white nationalist ideas under President Donald Trump’s administration. The center logged a sharp expansion of anti-LGBTQ groups, up 43 percent from 49 in 2018 to 70 last year, and a smaller increase in anti-immigrant groups from 17 in 2018 to 20 last year.