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Hate groups still very real threat
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The war against hate organizations and hate crimes still rages. With hate groups targeting everything from Muslims, African-Americans, to LGBT, and with groups such as the Neo-Nazis, Nation of Islam, and KKK, few people are safe from the possibility of being a victim of a hate crime, according to a recent Rotary Club speaker.
On Thursday, Lecia J. Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center, visited the Rotary Club of McMinnville to speak at its weekly luncheon. Brooks spoke of civil inequality, hate crimes, hate groups and provided a list of 37 active hate groups in Tennessee, with none in Warren County.
Founded in Montgomery, Ala., often called “the birthplace of the civil rights movement,” the Southern Poverty Law Center fights these groups and provides resources for victims to find and receive help.
The SPLC has offices facing the Civil Right Memorial, which serves as a constant reminder of the causes they support and the long road traveled since being founded in 1971 by attorneys Morris Dees and Joe Levin. It has been a leading force for social justice and protection of America’s weakest, most vulnerable, and most exploited citizens.
Brooks presented a slide show detailing a brief history of the civil rights movement, moving forward to focus on the hate groups, bigotry, and discrimination of present day. Her presentation was followed by a brief question and answer session.
Brooks noted websites can promote hate messages.
“These websites are very dangerous in that people can read about their rantings in the privacy of their own home and then they become what we call ‘lone wolves’ who act out atrocious things,” she said.
Aside from targeting hate groups, the SPLC also fights against other forms of discrimination and unfairness. A recent class action lawsuit against TennCare purported that TennCare did not handle applications in the required 45-day window regulated by federal law.
Applicants for TennCare were required to go through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was not designed for this service. Requiring applicants to wait two or three times longer than the required window could have serious implications on extremely ill applicants.
The state has been ordered to rectify the situation. “We’ve probably had about 15 successful civil suits against different groups since the early cases,” said Brooks.
SPLC is a volunteer program that works through a volunteer program that works through legislative advocacy, litigation, and education to combat organized hate and extremism and to promote the safety of children, minorities, and immigrants.
Brooks has served as outreach director since 2010. She is a graduate of National University and Loyla Marymount University, LA. She has appeared on national TV, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and LA Times.
More information on the Southern Poverty Law Center can be found at