NASHVILLE, Tenn. (HAGGARD) — Tennessee added new white supremacist groups in 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.
Though the overall number is down, Heidi Beirich with the SPLC says the state has seen a shift in hate groups.
“New organizations have popped up in Tennessee: the Loyal White Knights, for example, which is a Klan outfit; there are three new League of the South chapters, that’s an organization that’s a neo-Confederate hate group; there’s a group called Identity Evropa that does a lot of recruiting on college campuses that’s now in Tennessee."
Beirich says its normal to see a year-to-year shift, but the types of new groups cropping up are notable.
“I think a lot of that has to do with basically presentation and look. Right? Younger white supremacists, like the folks that we all saw on the streets of Charlottesville, want to look mainstream. They’re wearing khakis and polos. They have what they fashy haircuts — short haircuts. And they’re really not that interested in what basically looks like some old school form of hate — you know, in terms of Klan robes and Klan hoods.”
Beirich says if Tennessee wants to stop attracting new white supremacist groups, it may have to look at the events the state allows at its parks. Tennessee state parks allow meetings from hate groups because state law says they must host anyone who wants access.
“I mean it would obviously take some change in the rules or privatization of parks — I don’t know. But there’s no question that this is something that attracts hate groups to the state over and over and over again.”