COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Hate groups researchers say they have spotted at the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot have chapters in Missouri, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC says it has identified more than a dozen groups it classifies as hate groups in Missouri, including groups that hold white supremacist views or are affiliated with white supremacist organizations. Among them is the Proud Boys, a group the SPLC says identifies as "Western chauvinist," but affiliates with white supremacist groups. The SPLC lists the group as having a Kansas City chapter in Missouri.
The SPLC defines a hate group as one that "has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." The map of Missouri includes 21 different organizations, some characterized as "anti-Muslim," "white nationalist" or "Black separatist."
None of them appear to have chapters in mid-Missouri. Federal prosecutors have not announced any charges for Missourians tied to a hate group in connection with the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
Images from the Jan. 6 riot show some rioters openly displaying hateful views. That includes Robert Packer, the Virginia man seen wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" hoodie in the Capitol.
Michael Hayden, a researcher at the SPLC, says many of these groups will work together in planning, organizing and putting on events.
“These groups are absolutely working within one another, working among one another in order to plot terrorism," Hayden said. "That is demonstrable. So based upon that it’s critical to start looking at the infrastructure of the groups."
David Cunningham, a sociology professor at Washington University who studies hate groups, said various groups will often feel emboldened to speak and show themselves publicly if they feel it is safe for them to do so. Cunningham pointed to some of President Donald Trump's policies and statements on issues such as immigration for creating such an environment.
“I think certainly since Trump was elected and we’ve seen him in office, obviously, there’s been a pronounced shift in mainstream political discourse that has really allowed ideas not inconsistent with the ideas of white supremacists to be aired publicly," Cunningham said.
While President Trump has condemned the activity of hate groups in the past, some have criticized him for not doing so quickly enough or strongly enough following violent protests.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said troopers work on federal task forces dedicated to monitoring and preventing violence from various hate groups. That includes a seven-person team on the Organized Crime/Anti-Terrorism Unit, which "focuses on activities of identified domestic terrorism and organized crime, by working with our law enforcement partners."
Cunningham said arresting and prosecuting people for crimes motivated by hateful views is one way for communities to keep hate groups from getting a foothold. He said organizing groups opposing such ideas can also help.
“The presence of a [hate] group is one thing, but I think it’s important for other groups to be vocal as well that they oppose those particular ideas," Cunningham said.