South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies on statehouse grounds, is a hotbed for racist hate groups.
Last night, Dylann Roof, who is white, allegedly walked into Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Church and shot dead nine people. Witnesses told reporters the terrorist sat down with the pastor and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney during the service and opened fire when it concluded, killing him and eight others. He reportedly said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country — and you have to go.”
Authorities have not so far named any hate groups in connection. But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are at least 19 known hate groups in the state, including two factions of the Ku Klux Klan and four white nationalist groups, NBC News reports. More than a dozen of the groups are based in racial hatred specifically.
Of the state’s six neo-Confederate groups, South Carolina is home to two branches of League of the South. They believe the South should secede and be run by whites, according to the SPLC’s website.
The white separatist group Council of Conservative Citizens, opposed to racial integration, also operates in South Carolina, NBC News reports. Kyle Rogers, leader of that group, was quoted by the Post Courier in 2012 as saying that American blacks “are the most privileged members of their race” that “benefit greatly from the generosity of American whites, as they always have.”
Last July, residents in the South Carolina city of Seneca awoke to find bags of candy containing notes asking them to join the KKK, according to the Associated Press.
Violence from “far right” extremists is one of the top threats singled out by law enforcement agencies polled by the New York Times last year. Pointing that out was so politically fraught that Daryl Johnson, an expert in right wing terrorist groups left the Department of Homeland Security in 2010 after it dissolved his team, Wired reports.
“There’ve been no hearings about the rising white supremacist threat, but there’s been a long list of attacks over the last few years,” he told Wired. “But they still hold hearings about Muslim extremism. It’s out of balance.”