Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPL), as widely known is an organization formed to champion for the rights of minority groups in the U.S. it is a nonprofit organization with its location in Montgomery, Alabama set up with the goal of fighting effects of poverty, intolerance, prejudice, and combating hate (Holland, n. d). It does its work by identifying hate groups, militia organizations, and providing tolerance-promoting educational programs. Founded in 1971 by Morris Dee, as a civil rights organization to advocate for the rights victims of hate actions, such as threats, and violence, today, SPL, as these paper discuses, plays a pivotal role in fighting hate groups.
Primarily, SPL is geared toward serving justice to all. This, they do by ensuring that the less fortunate are adequately represented in courts and that justice is found to the satisfaction of both parties. The organization is based on a remarkably comprehensive legal system, which ensures its ability to intervene in cases within legal jurisdictions. Holland (n. d) argues that, using its legal system, it has filed successful cases involving hate groups in the U.S. By identifying and exposing these groups to the authorities, SPL plays a key role in reducing instances of hate-based violence across the U.S. By filing successful lawsuits against these groups, it leads to inevitable disbandment of such groups as it leaves the bankrupt Southern.
Secondly, it plays the role of fighting hate groups through monitoring activities and membership of hate groups. The organization is recognized for its investigative ways of dealing with cases. Therefore, it does a comprehensive investigation to locate these groups, their source of funds, membership, including their leadership, and who runs them. It does not only dig into these groups, but also educate the public on extremists groups. However, SPLC is handicapped within its jurisdictions, in that it lacks the authority to make arrests. Therefore, once they locate these militia groups, they inform the concerned law enforcement agencies.
What is evident from my research is that SPL engages in training of both the public and the law enforces. In the community, they identify capable individuals who can be trained on effective community policing. Currently, SPL has trained quite a sizeable number of police officers, and equipped them with specific skills on how to identify and deal with extremists.
Looking further, SPL has incorporated its advocacy activities in school programs. Through establishment Teaching Tolerance, the organization promotes tolerance, empathy, and appreciating the diversity of the people of the U.S. The organization does this by developing teaching materials and programs for teachers to be used in schools. In addition, the organization, in 2001, developed Tolerance.org, a website aimed combating hate and related vices in the community.
Recently, SPL released a report detailing the rapid rise in the number of hate groups. According to the findings, the number of hate groups in the U.S has risen by 54%. This is a tragic figure considering the effort put by SPL to eliminate these groups. It is evident that somebody is not playing his or her part well. To make significant progress in this fight, it is essential that the stakeholders intensify their efforts.
The following, according SPL, is a list of the most pronounced hate groups in the U.S, and particularly Michigan: neo-Nazi, White Power skinhead, Christian Identity, patriot Movements, and the Ku Klux Klan. In overall, there are up to 1020 hate groups in the U.S, all of which are active. These groups are engaged in a variety of hate-based vices including, hate speeches, unlawful meetings, publishing leaflets, rallies among other acts of crime.
Looking closely at the report it is evident that these groups host a number of websites on which they publish hate materials. It is also evident that these groups, either because most of them exist amongst the poor, or are intrinsically established to act against the poor, perpetrate their vices against the poor. Therefore, this is where SPLC comes in to play; to champion for the rights of the poor.