Special Report

States With the Most Active Hate Groups per Person

On Jan. 16, 2023, the United States will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one day after the 94th anniversary of his birth. As a civil rights leader, King stood up, not only against the institutional racism enforced by the U.S. government in the mid-20th century, but also against the hate groups that were promoting racist ideologies and using violence to suppress equal rights. 

Hate groups, including those with white supremacist ideologies, are organizations built around the vilification of others based on immutable characteristics such as race, religion, and gender identity. Historically, hate groups in the U.S. have often been reactionary movements. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, formed during the Reconstruction Era, emerging to prominence again in the Civil Rights Era a century later. 

In the 21st century, the same logic holds, as ongoing demographic changes and the racial justice movement that began in 2020 has been met with increased hate and fear among white supremacist groups. In recent years, the ideologies espoused by many of these groups have gained traction, spreading through social media and increasingly reaching mainstream media – even repeated by elected officials. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group, there were 733 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2021, spanning all 50 states. 

Names of active hate groups identified by the SPLC include, but are by no means limited to, the Proud Boys, the New Black Panther Party, the KKK, the Nation of Islam, Patriot Front, the House of Israel, Christ or Chaos, and the United Skinhead Nation. The ideologies promoted by these and other groups are varied, and often at odds. But each of them discriminates on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sexual preferences, or gender. (Here is a look at the largest hate groups in America.)

Using data from the SPLC, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most hate groups. In each state on this list, there were at least four active hate groups in 2021, and at least 2.5 active hate groups for every 1 million state residents. Population and demographic data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. 

Adjusting for population, the number of hate groups in the states on this list ranges from 2.6 for every 1 million people, to 4.6 per million. The largest share of states on this list are in the South, though the three highest ranking states are in the Midwest and Northeast.

Click here to see the states with the most active hate groups per person.

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