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Report Sees Rise in American Hate Groups

(CN) - The number of hate and extremist groups in America is up 14 percent while politicians such as Donald Trump advance "a bigoted political agenda," the Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday.

The nonprofit civil rights group's latest report also notes "an extraordinarily level of deadly violence from domestic extremists" in places like Charleston, S.C., and San Bernardino, Calif.

The SPLC found that hate groups and antigovernment "patriot" groups, defined as armed militias and others influenced by conspiracy theories, both grew by 14 percent from 2014 to 2015.

The number of hate groups in America increased from 784 to 892, while antigovernment groups totaled 998, up from 874, according to the SPLC.

The hate groups in the report include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen, black separatists, and those targeting LGBT people, Muslims and immigrants, the SPLC says.

The Ku Klux Klan leads the pack of hate groups with a count of 190. Those defined as "general hate" groups number 184, according to the SPLC report.

Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow and editor of its Intelligence Report, said in a statement that "2015 was clearly a year of deadly action for extremists."

"While the number of extremist groups grew in 2015 after several years of declines, the real story was the deadly violence committed by extremists in city after city," Potok said, noting shootings in Charleston, San Bernardino and Colorado Springs.

The nonprofit notes that presidential candidate Donald Trump made headlines in 2015 for describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

The SPLC says that hateful political rhetoric was accompanied by right-wing media messages, adding to polarization in America.

"After seeing the bloodshed that defined 2015, our politicians should have worked to defuse this anger and bring us together as a nation," Potok said. "Unfortunately, the carnage did little to dissuade some political figures from spouting incendiary rhetoric about minorities. In fact, they frequently exploited the anger and polarization across the country for political gain."

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