Virginia, the slogan goes, is for lovers. If a new report tracking the number of hate groups in America is to be believed, then New Jersey might be for haters.
Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual report on hate groups and extremism in America. The number of hate groups increased from 926 in 2008 to 932 in 2009. At the same time, the number and activity of nativist and so-called “patriot” groups increased sharply across the country.
New Jersey was home to 44 hate groups in 2009, more than every other state but California, Texas and Florida. More than half of hate groups in New Jersey are classified as racist skinhead organizations. There are also 7 black separatist groups, 6 neo-nazi groups, 3 white nationalist groups, 2 Klan groups, 2 racist music labels and a Christian identity group. Most of the state’s hate groups are based in South Jersey. The state was also home to eight nativist groups and eight patriot movement groups.
The state’s most famous racist, North Jersey resident and talk show host Hal Turner is currently on trial for threatening three very prominent appeals court judges.
Perhaps the most active hate group in New Jersey is the League of American Patriots, founded in 2008 for “adult heterosexual men and women who are entirely of European Christian ancestry.” The group littered towns in North Jersey with racist anti-Obama fliers in the run-up to the 2008 election, and last March, they “brawled” with anti-fascist activists who had shown up to protest the group’s meeting at a Clifton library.