Florida ranks second in the nation with 63 active hate groups, four of which are in Miami-Dade County, according to a new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and extremists in the U.S.
This comes after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville, Va., during a “Unite the Right’’ rally organized by white supremacist groups, who took to the streets carrying Nazi and Confederate flags, chanting “Heil Hitler’ and, in some cases, armed with semi-automatic rifles.
On Saturday, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio rammed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of activists protesting the Nazi sympathizers at the Charlottesville rally, killing Heyer and injuring at least 35 others, police said. Fields has ties to neo-Nazi groups.
The rally was held to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s top general. The activists protested the actions of the white nationalists.
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The Southern Poverty Law Center report includes a detailed map of the 917 hate groups actively operating across the United States, with California ranking number one with 79 groups. Florida follows, with 63 active hate groups.
In Miami, there are four active groups: the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group, and three black separatist groups: the Nation of Islam, the New Black Panther Party and the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge.
In Fort Lauderdale, the report cites two groups: the Nation of Islam and the D. James Kennedy Ministries, formerly Truth in Action, an anti-LGBT group.
In 2016, there were 130 Ku Klux Klan groups and 193 Black Separatist groups operating nationwide, according to the report.
The groups peaked at 1,018 in 2011, according to the report. By 2014, that number had fallen to 784. Since then, the groups have been steadily increasing, rising to last year’s 917 groups.
League of the South members were one of many groups involved in the Charlottesville rally. A Gainesville resident, James M. O’Brien, 44, was arrested by the Virginia State Police at the rally for carrying a concealed handgun, according to the Associated Press.
Richard Spencer, a leader in the white nationalist movement, may speak Sept. 12 at the University of Florida, according to an announcement by the school's president, Ken Fuchs.
Spencer, who organized a Washington rally after President Donald Trump’s election in which members raised their arms in Nazi salutes and declared “hail Trump,’’ was one of the headline speakers at the Charlottesville rally.
Vigils were held in many cities on Sunday to remember the victims of Saturday's violent clash. One vigil in Hollywood called attention to the battle to change three street signs named after Confederate generals — Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood. Activists called on Hollywood city commissioners to approve the changes at their next meeting on Aug. 30, after 13 years of fighting for the change.
A second vigil was held at Bayfront Park, where more than 300 people came together to burn votive candles. There was a long moment of silence for Heyer and then the group sang, We Shall Overcome.