Police shootings fueling black extremism
The public backlash against police shootings of black people is helping fuel the growth of black hate groups, some of which advocate retaliatory violence against law enforce-ment, watchdog groups said yesterday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 113 groups advocating black separatism, black supremacy or some other extreme, black-centric ideology in the United States in 2014. By the end of 2015, in the aftermath of last year's killing of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the number had grown to 180, an increase of nearly 60 per cent in less than a year.
The centre says the number of Ku Klux Klan groups grew even more during the same period, but experts say much of that change was linked to the splintering of larger groups rather than real growth.
No one knows exactly how many people have been drawn to black extremist groups, but there's no reason to believe the growth of violent ideology is slowing. Last week's protests of police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota have only spread since a black sniper killed five police officers at a demonstration in Dallas.
"It draws people to their ranks, people who are mad about what is going on with law enforcement," said Heidi Beirich, director of the Alabama-based centre's Intelligence Project, which tracks extremist organisations.
People who join such organisations might not pose the biggest threat anyway, said Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League. He agrees that killings by police and the ensuing protests provide fuel for black extremist groups, but believes exact numbers are hard to pin down.