Group counts 42 hate groups across Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Right now, there are 917 hate groups operating in the United States. Of that total, 42 are in Virginia.

That’s according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The organization has an interactive map on its website showing which ones and where. To view the map, click here. You can also search for Virginia specifically.

Here’s how the SPLC identifies a hate group:

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. The SPLC list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports. Locally identified groups are tracked where members participate in hate group activities which can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”

The hate groups listed for Virginia range from neo-Nazis to racist skinheads, black separatists to anti-LGBT.

“This is a very diverse nation and I think whether it’s race or religion or gender or sexual identity, we have so much more in common than we do in difference,” said Bill Harrison, executive director of Diversity Richmond.

Diversity Richmond is a center of the LGBT community that encourages inclusivity and equality.

“I always say the enemy keeps the fire burning in our bellies because they keep us activated. They make us angry. They make us stand up and challenge the ignorance and bigotry they’re supporting,” he said.

Harrison said he believes the hatred that spilled into Charlottesville over the weekend has a long history and won’t be resolved in conversation alone.

“People need to take a deep breath and listen. Stop thinking about how you’re going to respond and listen,” said Harrison. “When we hear people share their stories and their journeys and we’re calmly listening to that, I think there’s a connection that happens that listening brings about.”