Monday, November 12, 2001

Study: Ohio has most racist groups

Some use Sept. 11 as recruiting tool

The Associated Press

        Ohio leads the Midwest in the number of white-supremacist groups, according to a study by a Chicago-based anti-racism group.

        The Center for New Community says Ohio has 73 white-supremacist groups — including the Aryan Nations and the National Alliance — in a report released Saturday.

Complete coverage in our special section.
        Some of the groups are using the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a recruiting tool and have used images of the burning World Trade Towers on fliers as a way to argue that the U.S. needs to close its borders.

        The public is largely unaware of the groups' activities, said Devin Burghart, author of the report and director of the center's Building Democracy Initiative.

        “It's underneath that veil of ignorance that these organizations grow,” he told The Cleveland Plain Dealer for a Saturday story.

        The Center for New Community is tracking 338 white-nationalist groups active in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

        Ohio authorities say they are aware of the groups but can't investigate unless a crime has been committed. Ted Almay, superintendent of the state's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, recently said Ohio did not have large numbers of hard-core white supremacists.

        “Altogether, you'd be hard pressed to come up with 150,” Mr. Almay said. “I mean card-carrying, "I'm a member,' tattooed, not counting the prisons.”

        The “very violent rhetoric” of the National Alliance concerns Mr. Almay the most, he said. He estimated the group's Ohio membership at 30.

        The group has dropped fliers in Columbus blaming Jews for the Sept. 11 attacks. The National Alliance also has conducted demonstrations where it tried to sign up new members and stir anti-immigration sentiment, Mr. Burghart said.

        The new director of Nazi Aryan Nations, Harold Ray Redfeairn, reportedly lives in the Dayton area and is scouting sites for an Ohio office.

        Two white-nationalist groups have increased their Ohio membership in recent years, Mr. Burghart said.

        World Church of the Creator added Cleveland and Akron chapters for a total of four. The National Socialist Movement, which draws on the teachings of Adolph Hitler, has grown from one chapter to three, he added.


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