In light of Sikh Temple shooting, experts say hate groups on the rise

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OAK CREEK -- When Wade Michael Page inexplicably targeted a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek and opened fire inside, killing six and critically injuring three, the white supremacist not only claimed innocent lives, but his actions highlighted a disturbing trend -- hate groups are on the rise.

Experts say several events have brought this on, including 9/11, the election of President Obama, and changing demographics.

"The hate movement has been basically, rapidly rising now for over a decade," Heidi Beirich with the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center was tracking just over 600 hate groups. By 2011, that number dramatically increased to 1,018.

What changed?

Some say the face of America -- starting with the 2000 census which predicted by 2055, less than half of the country would be white.

"If you're a white supremacist and you find that out, it's pretty terrifying because that puts an end to your dreams of creating a white nation in the United States," Beirich said.

Hate groups and hate crimes are mainly motivated by race and religion.

  • 2009 -- An avowed white supremacist was arrested for fatally shooting a security guard at Washington's Holocaust Memorial. He died awaiting trial.
  • 2011 -- At a Martin Luther King parade in Spokane, Washington, the FBI found a backpack loaded with explosives and an anti-blood clotting agent. The man, identified as a white supremacist, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime.
  • 2012 -- 14 alleged members of the anarchist group "American Front" were arrested on charges including anti-American paramilitary training and planning an attack in central Florida. Prosecutors say their ultimate aim is race war against Jews, immigrants and other minorities.Trials are scheduled for later this year.

So how do you stop an apparent lone wolf?

"The sad fact is that Wade Michael Page is just one of thousands of people who look like him with the racist tattoos, who say vile things about killing Jews or blacks or whatever the case might be. He decided to step over to violence, and most people won't, and it's very, very hard to know when that's going to happen," Beirich said.

The FBI says unless there's a threat of violence, agents cannot arrest them no matter how hateful the speech.

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