Florida home to dozens of hate groups

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As we reel from the horror of Wednesday night's shooting at a predominantly African American church in Charleston, details are slowly emerging about Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine during the rampage. While some describe Roof as quiet and kind of a loner, others say he has been known to crack racist jokes

Images of Roof that have circulated throughout the media show him surrounded with racist memorabilia, including a Confederate Flag decorative license plate and a jacket sporting patches typically worn by white supremacist groups. And according to some reports, he engaged in a racist rant before carrying out the shootings.

Charleston may be hundreds of miles away, and it's unclear at this point whether Roof belonged to any hate group. But here in Florida, the volume of hate groups espousing similar violently intolerant messages is high.



The above screen grab of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map shows the affiliation and approximate location of 50 hate groups in Florida — the second biggest number in the nation, behind California, which has 57.

The map includes every type of hate group, no matter whom the group targets.

In the Tampa Bay area, that includes the Florida Family Association, Bill Keller Ministries, the New Black Panther Party and the Nationalist Coalition.

As for South Carolina, there are 19, including Council of Conservative Citizens near Charleston.

In Florida, the number of incidents specified as hate crimes seems to fluctuate year over year, according to a report the state Attorney General's office releases annually, but there has been a significant decline since 2002.

click to enlarge Florida home to dozens of hate groups - screen grab, myfloridalegal.com
screen grab, myfloridalegal.com
Florida home to dozens of hate groups
Whitney Ray, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Pam Bondi, said Bondi is "deeply saddened" by the tragedy in Charleston and "the victims and their loved ones are in her thoughts and prayers."

"Although hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted by local law enforcement and state attorneys’ offices, Attorney General Bondi is committed to helping eliminate these types of crimes in the State of Florida," Ray said in an emailed statement.

It's unclear whether the events in Charleston will impact how law enforcement agencies operate locally in terms of efforts to prevent hate crimes.

“I think we're just continuing business as usual,” said a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

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