The number of hate groups in Indiana jumped about 15 percent last year, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2017 Indiana ranked 11th in the nation with 30 hate groups. That’s up from 13th the year before.
There are now 954 hate groups nationwide, an increase of about 4 percent over 2016.
Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Jeannine Bell says the increase is especially concerning since Indiana is one of five states without a hate crimes law.
“I think that’s a very good reason to be worried about this,” Bell says. “We’re seeing an increase in white supremacist organizations that engage in behavior like cross burning.”
Hate crimes legislation has been proposed – and failed – at the Indiana Statehouse for decades, most recently last month.
The Southern Poverty Law Center report notes a decline in Ku Klux Klan groups, with 72 nationally in 2017 compared to 130 in 2016. But the report points out that groups with some form of white supremacist ideology are growing significantly.
“The decline is a clear indication that the new generation of white supremacists is rejecting the Klan’s hoods and robes for the hipper image of the more loosely organized alt-right movement,” the report says.
In Indiana, KKK groups declined, but neo-Nazi groups and anti-Muslim groups increased.
The report also says black nationalist groups are on the rise, but says these hate groups should not be confused with activist groups like Black Lives Matter, as the two have very different ideology.