NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The spring 2016 edition of Southern Poverty Law Center’s investigative journal chronicled a growing concern.
The law center found a 14 percent national increase in hate groups between 2014 and 2015, and that 41 of 892 total hate groups existed in Tennessee last year.
Civil rights advocate and immigration attorney Elliot Ozment told News 2 the report is discouraging.
“It’s something we should be ashamed of. Tennessee and Nashville are supposed to be the buckle of the Bible belt, yet there is a growth of hate groups in this state that is unparalleled in modern times,” said Ozment.
The groups listed in Tennessee included several chapters of white supremacist, white nationalist, black separatist, neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim groups.
According to the report, more than 10 hate groups are located in the Nashville area.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says the increase in hate groups is in correlation with growing fear among working class Americans.
It says the extremist groups, even some politicians, are capitalizing on fear to further their causes.
Why does Tennessee rank so high?
“I think it goes all the way back to the Civil War. I think the South, including Tennessee, has never gotten over the civil war, the War Between the States,” said Ozment.