Missouri has more hate groups than the total of four of its neighboring states, according to data compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.
The SPLC maintains a map with the location of all hate groups throughout the country. It shows that Missouri, with 24, has two more hate groups than Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma combined.
There are 917 total hate groups in the U.S.
Hate groups dot the Missouri map. The SPLC lists one in Kansas City, one in Springfield, eight in and around St. Louis, and others in rural areas around the state.
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Israel United in Christ is the sole group in Kansas City. The group’s website rejects its designation by the SPLC as a black separatist hate group.
A message left with the KC Israel United in Christ group was not immediately returned.
“Black separatists typically oppose integration and racial intermarriage, and they want separate institutions — or even a separate nation — for blacks,” the SPLC says.
There are two neo-Nazi groups (Grovespring and St. Louis), two anti-Muslim groups (Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis) and one anti-LGBT group (St. Louis) in Missouri.
In addition, there are multiple sovereign citizen and neo-Confederate groups in the state, including five black separatist groups.
Don Haider-Markel, a KU professor and expert in political extremism on the right and left, said Missouri has a long history of far-right extremism.
“In addition to far-right extremists (and) sovereign citizens,” Haider-Markel said, “Missouri also stands out for its black separatist groups and African-American sovereign citizens.”
He attributed Missouri’s relatively high number of hate groups to oppression endured in the area at the hands of the federal government.
During the Civil War, the Union Army enacted a controversial measure to counter the guerrilla-style warfare practiced by Missouri “bushwackers” of the Confederacy. General Order No. 11 forced a mass evacuation in four western Missouri counties and the confiscation of property. Soldiers and bandits plundered abandoned properties and set them ablaze. The area became known as the “Burnt District.”
“I would trace it back to that,” Haider-Markel said. “That distrust of government, especially the federal government, has a long history in Missouri.”
Kansas has seven hate groups, including the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.
California has the most in the nation, with 79.
Over the past two decades, the groups have become more prominent in the country. Latino immigration, projections showing whites becoming the minority and President Barack Obama’s election combined to accelerate the rise of hate groups, SPLC’s site states.
“In the last two years, in part due to a presidential campaign that flirted heavily with extremist ideas, the hate group count has risen again,” the SPLC states.