Charlottesville exposed homegrown hate groups

LAS VEGAS - Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia is bringing renewed attention on an old problem plaguing the country -- white supremacist groups and extremism.

Experts say white supremacy started to reemerge from the shadows a decade ago and the Internet has helped in the growth and re-branding of an old idea.

"These beliefs are more widespread than we imagine," said Professor Robert Futrell, chair of sociology, UNLV.

He says the violence at Charlottesville exposed the new version of white supremacy. It's not just the hooded KKK or tattooed neo-nazi.

This new variation -- including what's known as the "alt right" -- contains young, college-aged men from around the country who feel comfortable showing their face and sharing their beliefs in public. 

"They look like anybody else, go to same grocery stores, go to the same schools and are employed at the same places as everybody else," Futrell said.

According to a recent GAO report on countering violent extremism.

For 15 years after 9/11, attacks by domestic or homegrown violent extremists in the U.S. resulted in 225 deaths. Of those 106 were killed by far right extremists in 62 separate incidents and 119 were victims of radical Islamic terrorists - the result of 23 incidents.

According to the same extremist crime database, no fatalities were caused by far left wing extremist groups during that time period.

"I'll be clear about this," Futrell said. "White supremacist groups are terrorist groups, ISIS is a terrorist group. In our research we've seen white supremacists look towards ISIS to understand some of the strategies they're using and incorporate that themselves."

Futrell says whether right or wrong, white supremacist groups believe they have a network of allies in the White House.

"What we saw, Trump's reaction or lack thereof was symbolic to them, important and symbolic to them, but also sparked a backlash that we're seeing today," Futrell said.

That backlash has continued. Yesterday, President Trump condemned the white supremacist groups involved and then today placed blame on both sides again mentioning what he called the "alt left."

More alt-right rallies are planned this weekend in cities across the country. So far, Las Vegas is not on that list.
 


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