Posts Tagged ‘Mark Potok’
An Associated Press news story Wednesday named the Wenatchee area as home to a racial hate group, although the watchdog agency cited in that report lists no such organized presence in NCW.
The AP news brief sent to Northwest newspapers said an unnamed hate group “in the Wenatchee area” was one of 13 known to operate in the state. Its source was the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alabama-based anti-discrimination group that tracks and combats organized racist activity.
But Mark Potok, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said he has no records of a hate group operating near Wenatchee, despite a map resource on the SPLC website that appears to show a chapter of the Northwest Hammerskins in central Douglas County.
Potok said SPLC publishes a “Hate Map,” which identifies active hate groups and their known locations, and a donor-outreach “Stand Strong” map, which is less specific. The “Stand Strong” map includes a Douglas County locator dot for the Northwest Hammerskins; the “Hate Map” does not.
The Douglas County locator appears to have been arbitrarily placed, and does not match up to Intelligence Project records, Potok said.
“They have a statewide chapter, and we could not figure out where it was based,” Potok said of the Northwest Hammerskins. “… But we don’t know where it is in the state of Washington, so it’s not true that there’s one near Wenatchee.”
SPLC lists locations for 10 out of the 13 documented hate groups — four in Seattle, two in Vancouver, two in Spokane, one in Milton and one in Tacoma. Three other hate organizations, including the Northwest Hammerskins, have no known base of operation.
Nick Geranios, the Spokane-based AP reporter who filed the brief, said he used SPLC’s maps for his sources at the request of a newspaper editor, who wanted more information about hate groups and their home bases. The brief accompanied a larger article by Geranios about extremist groups in the Northwest.
“A hate group may sound like something that has an organization and a structure and guys in uniforms and a hierarchy and a budget,” said Geranios, who’s covered white supremacist movements for 15 years. “And what it really might be is two guys in bathrobes in their mothers’ basements, writing emails to other websites with nasty words in them, and they call themselves a hate group because they’ve got a name.”
The brief did not appear in print editions of The Wenatchee World, although it was carried on the newspaper’s website. It also was published on the KPQ website, and appeared on the Seattle Times, Oregonian, Bellingham Herald and Tri-City Herald sites.
The Northwest Hammerskins started in 1999 as an offshoot of the Hammerskin Nation, a Southern skinhead movement begun in 1987. The movement uses racist rock music as a communication outlet and has since spread to Europe, Australia and Canada.Share on Facebook