White Lives Matter will soon be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
SPLC said the status will be reflected in the next update of its “Hate Map,” which tracks the activities of hate groups around the country.
“I can’t speak to how many chapters will be listed, but it’s clear that the leadership of the group, the ends of the group ― it’s just a flat-out white supremacist group,” Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s Intelligence Report, told the Houston Chronicle. “The ideology behind it, the racist leaders, everything about it is racist.”
White Lives Matter made headlines earlier this month when the group sent armed protesters to an NAACP office in Houston, where they waved Confederate flags.
“Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin,” White Lives Matter member Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “We’re not.”
However, the Anti-Defamation League said the protest was organized by the white supremacist organization Aryan Renaissance Society:
“During the August 21 protest, the ARS symbol, a lightning bolt and a runic symbol, was visible on the group’s ‘white lives matter’ banner and on white shirts worn by some of the dozen or so participants. Their message also included a sign reading ‘14 words,’ a reference to the most popular white supremacist slogan in the world: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’
The SPLC said in a blog post that one of the leaders of White Lives Matter was Rebecca Barnette, a 40-year-old Tennessee woman “who is also vice president of the women’s division of the racist skinhead group Aryan Strikeforce.” Barnette was also allegedly involved in the National Socialist Movement, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group, SPLC said.
While those organizations are already known as hate groups, the addition of White Lives Matter will be new to the map.
“We are listing them because they are clearly white supremacists,” Beirich told VICE News. “Their motto should be ‘only white lives matter.’”
Although some called for Black Lives Matter to be listed as a hate group after the shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, that organization doesn’t hold supremacist or separatist views and its leaders have condemned violence.
The SPLC said in a blog post last month:
There’s no doubt that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant ‘pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon’ that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee ― or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.
The next update to the “Hate Map” is expected in February.
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