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KKK is growing again, report says

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    KKK is growing again, report says By ERIN TEXEIRA, The Associated Press February 6, 2007 NEW YORK — Huge street protests made millions of immigrants more
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2007
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      KKK is growing again, report says
      By ERIN TEXEIRA, The Associated Press
      February 6, 2007
      NEW YORK — Huge street protests made millions of immigrants more visible and powerful last year, but they also seem to have revived a hateful counter force: white supremacists.
      Groups linked to the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis grew significantly more active, holding more rallies, distributing leaflets and increasing their presence on the Internet — much of it focused on stirring anti-immigrant sentiment, a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League says.
      "Extremist groups are good at seizing on whatever the hot button is of the day and twisting the message to get new members," Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights director, said Monday. "This one seems to be taking hold with more of mainstream America than we'd like to see."
      Old Klan chapters have been revived and new ones started throughout the South, historically the heart of the group, and in other places such as Michigan, Iowa and New Jersey, says the report, which was scheduled for official release today.
      Last May in Alabama, an anti-immigration rally included slogans such as, "Let's get rid of the Mexicans!" according to the document, titled "Ku Klux Klan Rebounds."
      "The Klan is increasingly cooperating with other extremist groups and neo-Nazi groups," Lauter said. "That's a new phenomenon."
      Between 2000 and 2005, the number of hate groups mushroomed by 33 percent and Klan chapters by 63 percent, said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes.
      Precise data are difficult to pin down, but Potok's group counts as many as 150 Klan chapters with up to 8,000 members nationwide. More than 800 hate groups exist around the country, Southern Poverty research shows.
      In the late 1990s, memberships in such groups was crumbling as they lost leaders and struggled to organize, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Many hit bottom around 2000.
      "Whenever you think the Klan is down and out, they find another way to reinvent themselves," he said of the recent resurgence.
       
      Historically, the Klan's focus had been to terrorize African Americans — through race riots, lynchings and other killings — but it reached peak membership at more than 4 million in the 1920s by focusing on immigration.
      Newcomers from Ireland and Germany were portrayed as Catholic usurpers invading the United States, taking jobs from native-born Americans and undermining national fabric, Levin said.
      Said Potok: "It's remarkable to look back at the nativist sentiments toward Catholics — it's very similar to what we're seeing with Mexicans now."
      Today, many white supremacists blame immigrants, particularly Hispanics, for crime, struggling schools or unemployment, for instance.
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