Hate Groups On the Rise in NW

By Tom Bacon

The number of extremist, "patriot," militia and sovereignty groups across the inland northwest and the rest of the country is rising sharply, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Conspiracy-minded patriot groups numbered only 149 in 2008, but new groups have exploded since Barack Obama was elected president to 1,360 as of last year - an astounding 813 percent increase.

Of that number, perhaps 50 can be found in Washington - 23 in Idaho. The new report found that California has the most patriot extremist groups with 81.

But Idaho has perhaps the most intriguing group - survivalists who plan to build a giant, walled fortress in the hills near Saint Maries where residents would be required to own guns and be prepared to defend the compound in the event society collapses or the government tries to take away their guns.

The Southern Poverty Law Center report said the rise in such groups echoes  the time two decades ago shortly after the Ruby Ridge siege in northern IDaho, the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City and the deadly violence in Waco, Texas.

The report author, Mark Potok, said the political climate now is "very reminiscent" of the period leading up to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, with extremist groups in what he called a "white-hot" rage.
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