SPLC warns of rise in extremist groups - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPLC warns of rise in extremist groups

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The Southern Poverty Law Center's report on extremist groups in America. The Southern Poverty Law Center's report on extremist groups in America.
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Could it be a cause for concern?

The Southern Poverty Law Center released new information Tuesday regarding extremist groups in the United States.  They say over the last four years these types of groups have grown by 800%.

"It seems like it is likely to get worse before it will get better," says Senior SPLC Fellow Mark Potok.

Potok is convinced this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extremist groups.

There are currently more than 1,300 so called "Patriot" groups in America.

There are 30 in Alabama alone.

"They see the government...the federal government as their primary enemy and essentially an evil entity involved in conspiracies," says Potok.

As the country becomes more politically charged, Potok sees the prevalence of these groups increasing.

He believes President Barack Obama's re-election, the gun control debate and the struggling economy are all main contributors to their growth.

So what do these groups do?  What do they look like?

"There are groups that really do engage in a form of paramilitary training. Other groups basically sit around a room and complain about the government."

But Potok says the worry is "that somebody out there is going to act. It seems very possible."

That idea became a reality not long ago when Jimmy Lee Dykes--who was known as a survivalist and had anti-government views--shot a Dale County school bus driver and took a five year old boy hostage.

"Jimmy Lee Dykes' state of mind, his attitude towards the government, his really violent hatreds are reflective of exactly the kind of thing we see in the anti-government movement at large," says Potok.

But does that mean the average citizen should worry?

"The likelihood is that the normal, everyday citizen will never encounter any kind of crime being committed by members of these groups."

While the number of extremist groups has risen over the last four years, the number of hate groups has decreased.

There are also 30 hate groups in Alabama.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reached out to the federal government urging them to allocate more resources to research these extremist groups.

Copyright 2013  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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