‘Hate groups’ to make appearances at RNC in Cleveland
By Evan Lips | July 14, 2016, 22:40 EDT
CLEVELAND — The Southern Poverty Law Center, the nonprofit legal entity that bills itself as a defender of civil rights, is maintaining what they call a growing list of “hate groups” set to descend upon the city as the Republican National Convention kicks off.
According to the SPLC, three such groups, including the New Black Panthers, have confirmed they plan on being in Cleveland.
The other two groups include an outfit known as the Oath Keepers and the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.
The Oath Keepers, the SPLC report notes, was founded in 2009 and “has risen to be one of the most influential groups in the antigovernment movement.” The organization is mostly comprised of former military and police personnel.
A page on the group’s website lays out a list of specific “orders” which members do not obey, including orders to disarm citizens and orders to comply with warrantless searches. The SPLC, however, does not specifically identify the nature of the group’s hate but has claimed members seek to overthrow the government.
The Oath Keepers made headlines in 2015 when they appeared in Ferguson, Missouri, during protests marking the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. According to media reports, members were looking to arm Ferguson protesters.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, a Yale University Law School graduate and former paratrooper for the U.S. Army is a noted constitutionalist. In a lengthy profile produced by the left-wing MotherJones.com, Rhodes was reportedly “fascinated by the notion that if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could have been stopped.”
The SPLC claims the Oath Keepers “served as a private security force to prevent white businesses from looting,” but a St. Louis Post Dispatch report notes that members worked to protect a black-owned bakery after it had been vandalized during the unrest.
Meanwhile, leaders of the New Black Panthers have walked back initial comments regarding members being armed to take advantage of Ohio’s status as an open carry state.
The SPLC describes the group, which was founded in Dallas, as “militant, modern-day expression of the black power movement” but stresses that the original Black Panther Party has rejected the organization and has labeled them as a “black racist hate group.”
Lastly, the Westboro Baptist Church has previously made headlines by protesting funerals and vigils held in the wake of various tragedies.
“Known for its extreme anti-gay beliefs and the crude signs its members carry at their frequent protests, the group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps,” the SPLC contends. “The group is typified by its slogan, ‘God Hates Fags.’”
“The group is arguable the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”
The SPLC website notes that the list will be updated “as more information becomes available.”