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Southern Poverty Law Center

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Title: Southern Poverty Law Center  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ku Klux Klan, Black supremacy, Animal Liberation Front, Antisemitism, Racial antisemitism
Collection: 1971 Establishments in Alabama, 1971 Establishments in the United States, African-American History of Alabama, Anti-Discrimination Law in the United States, Anti-Neo-Nazi Organizations, Anti-Racist Organizations in the United States, Charities Based in the United States, Civil Liberties Advocacy Groups in the United States, Legal Advocacy Organizations in the United States, Organizations Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Organizations Established in 1971, Progressivism in the United States, Southern Poverty Law Center
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Southern Poverty Law Center

Southern Poverty Law Center
Founded 1971
Founder Morris Dees
Joseph R. Levin, Jr.
Type Public-interest law firm
Civil rights advocacy organization
Tax ID no. 63-0598743 (EIN)
Focus Hate groups
Civil rights
Area served United States
Product Legal representation
Public education
Key people J. Richard Cohen, President
Revenue $40,418,368 (2012 FY)[1]
Endowment $281.1 million
Employees 254[1]
Volunteers 14
Website .org.splcenterwww

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an American nonprofit civil rights organization noted for its legal victories against [5] The SPLC's hate group list has been the source of some controversy.[6][7]

In 1971,

  • Official website
  • official website
  • Interview with Mark PotokVoices on Antisemitism from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Smith v. Young Men's Christian Association of Montgomery Inc. (462 F. 2d 634), United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision in the SPLC's case against the Montgomery, Alabama YMCA. Open Jurist. Accessed April 22, 2014

External links

  • Dees, Morris, and Steve Fiffer. 1991. A Season for Justice: The Life and Times of Civil Rights Lawyer Morris Dees. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-684-19189-X
  • Dees, Morris, and Steve Fiffer. 1993. Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0-679-40614-X.
  • Fleming, Maria, ed. 2001. A Place At The Table: Struggles for Equality in America. New York: Oxford University Press in association with the Southern Poverty Law Center. ASIN B008TCFV46. ISBN 978-0195150360.
  • Hall, Dave, Tym Burkey and Katherine M. Ramsland. 2008. Into the Devil’s Den. New York: Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-49694-2.
  • Day, Katie (January 21, 2010) "Southern Poverty Law Center". Encyclopedia of Alabama online
  1. ^ a b "2012 Form 990 U.S. Federal Tax Return". Foundation Center. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ "With Justice For All".  
  3. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center". The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties.
  4. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center". Free Legal Dictionary.
  5. ^ a b c d "Hate Map". SPLC. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Jonsson, Patrik (February 23, 2011). "Annual report cites rise in hate groups, but some ask: What is hate?". Christian Science Monitor.
  7. ^ a b Signorile, Michelangelo (August 22, 2012). Writer, Slams LGBT Activists, SPLC For FRC's 'Hate Group' Label"Washington Post"Dana Milbank, . HuffPost Gay Voices. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  8. ^ a b "Attorney Morris Dees pioneer in using 'damage litigation' to fight hate groups". CNN. September 8, 2000. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  9. ^ Dees, Morris, and Steve Fiffer. 1991. A Season For Justice. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 132-133.
  10. ^ Michael, George (2012). Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 32.  
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Ask The Globe". Boston Globe. October 18, 1984. 
  16. ^ "Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2006". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  17. ^ "Fire Damages Alabama Center that Battles the Klan".  
  18. ^ a b "2 Klan Members Plead Guilty To Arson".  
  19. ^ a b c Klass, Kym (August 17, 2007). "Southern Poverty Law Center beefs up security".  
  20. ^ "Death List Names Given to US Jury".  
  21. ^ "Jury Told of Plan to Kill Radio Host".  
  22. ^ a b "The Nation Klan Must Pay $7 Million".  
  23. ^ "Klan Member Put to Death In Race Death". The New York Times. 1997-06-06. 
  24. ^ "Five Tied to Klan Indicted on Arms Charges".  
  25. ^ Tauber, Peter (February 24, 1991). "Monument Maker".  
  26. ^ "Metzger Leaves Former Home A Mess, but its Undamaged".  
  27. ^ "Metzger Home Worth Only A Tiny Fraction of $12.5 Million Sum".  
  28. ^ "4 Are Accused in Oklahoma of Bomb Plot".  
  29. ^ "Group is accused of plotting assassinations, bombings. Two others will plead guilty Thursday." St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) (May 13, 1998): pB1.
  30. ^ "Law Center Begins Project". Montgomery Advertiser. February 16, 1999. 
  31. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center's New Home". Montgomery Advertiser. March 29, 2001. 
  32. ^ a b The church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance, Ken Silverstein, Harper's Magazine, November 2000
  33. ^ Barrouquere, Brett (November 13, 2008). "Former member: Ky. Klan plotted to kill attorney".  
  34. ^ "Micheal McDonald clip on KKK: Inside American Terror".  
  35. ^ "Bringing the Klan to Court".  
  36. ^ Applebome, Peter (November 21, 1989). "Two Sides of the Contemporary South: Racial Incidents and Black Progress".  
  37. ^ Sack, Kevin (May 12, 1996). "Conversations/Morris Dees; A Son of Alabama Takes On Americans Who Live to Hate".  
  38. ^ Dees and Fiffer (1991) p.108
  39. ^ a b Robert Heinrich (2008). Montgomery: The Civil Rights Movement and Its Legacies. Ph.D. dissertation. Brandeis University. p. 260.  
  40. ^ YMCA desegregation ruling turns 40 The Louisiana Weekly, July 26, 2010. Accessed December 9, 2010; URL replaced with version archived December 20, 2010
  41. ^ a b c Timothy Minchin (25 March 2011). After the Dream: Black and White Southerners since 1965. University Press of Kentucky. p. 68.  
  42. ^ Paul Finkelman (10 October 2006). Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. Taylor & Francis. p. 4836.  
  43. ^ Dees and Fiffer (1991) p.125
  44. ^ Kushner, Harvey W. (1998). The Future of Terrorism: Violence in the New Millennium. SAGE Publications. p. 108.  
  45. ^ Stevens, William K. (May 2, 1981). "Klan Official is Accused of Intimidation".  
  46. ^ Stevens, William K. (April 25, 1981). "Klan Inflames Gulf Fishing Fight Between Whites and Vietnamese".  
  47. ^ Gay, Kathlyn (2012). American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience. ABC-CLIO. p. 183.  
  48. ^ a b Greenhaw, Wayne (1 January 2011). Fighting the Devil in Dixie: How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. Chicago Review Press. p. 234.  
  49. ^ Stevens, William K. (May 15, 1981). "Judge Issues Ban on Klan Threat to Vietnamese".  
  50. ^ a b Gitlin, Marty (2009). The Ku Klux Klan: A Guide to an American Subculture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 41–2.  
  51. ^ a b "Person v. Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  52. ^ a b c d “Fighting hate in the courtroom.” SPLC Report. Special Issue, vol. 38, no.4. Winter 2008. p. 4.
  53. ^ "Supremacist Glenn Miller gets five years in prison". Star-News. 5 January 1988. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  54. ^ "Donald v. United Klans of America". Southern Poverty Law Center. 1988. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  55. ^ "Paying Damages For a Lynching".  
  56. ^ [1]
  57. ^ "Lawyer makes racists pay".  
  58. ^ The jury divided the judgment against the defendants as follows: Kyle Brewster, $500,000; Ken Mieske, $500,000;, John Metzger, $1 million; WAR, $3 million; Tom Metzger, $5 million; in addition, the jury awarded $2.5 million for Mulugeta's unrealized future earnings and pain and suffering.
  59. ^ London, Robb (October 26, 1990). "Sending a $12.5 Million Message to a Hate Group".  
  60. ^ Dees & Fiffer 1993, p. 277
  61. ^ "Hate-crime case award will be hard to collect, experts say".  
  62. ^ "Mansfield v. Church of the Creator". Southern Poverty Law Center. 03/07/1994. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  63. ^ a b "Mansfield v. Pierce". Southern Poverty Law Center. 03/07/1994. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  64. ^ "Klan Must Pay $37 Million for Inciting Church Fire".  
  65. ^ "Macedonia v. Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan". Southern Poverty Law Center. June 7, 1996. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  66. ^ a b "Klan Chapters Held Liable in Church Fire; Jury Awards $37.8 Million in Damages", The Washington Post July 25, 1998
  67. ^ a b "Keenan v. Aryan Nations". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2000. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  68. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 9, 2004). "Richard G. Butler, 86, Dies; Founder of the Aryan Nations".  
  69. ^ Dees2008, p. 194
  70. ^ "Ten Commandments judge removed from office". CNN. November 14, 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  71. ^ Glassroth v. Moore (PDF) (M.D. Ala. 2002).
  72. ^ Pollack, Andrew (2005-08-19). "2 Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  73. ^ "Leiva v. Ranch Rescue". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  74. ^ a b c Parker, Laura (April 26, 2007). "A jury's stand against racism reflects hope".  
  75. ^ a b "The Beating of Billy Ray Johnson".  
  76. ^ "Johnson v. Amox et al". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005-09-19. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  77. ^ a b $9 million award in beating case Chicago Tribune April 21, 2007. Accessed December 10, 2010
  78. ^ "Ex-jailer denies part in assault cover-up".  
  79. ^ "Center Wins Justice for Billy Ray Johnson". Southern Poverty Law Center. April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  80. ^ a b "No. 2 Klan group on trial in Ky. teen's beating - Southern Poverty Law Center hopes case will bankrupt hate group". Associated Press via  
  81. ^ a b c d "Jordan Gruver and Cynthia Gruver vs. Imperial Klans of America". Southern Poverty Law Center. July 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  82. ^ "Jury awards $2.5 million to teen beaten by Klan members". CNN. November 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  83. ^ Kenning, Chris. 2008. “$2.5 million awarded in Klan beating,” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 15, 2008, p. 1.
  84. ^ a b " About us". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  85. ^ "Teaching Tolerance". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  86. ^ "About Teaching Tolerance". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  87. ^ "Planet Tolerance". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  88. ^ "Mix it up:Our Story". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  89. ^ "Mighty Times: The Children’s March", 77th Academy Awards
    ^ "Time for Justice, A (VHS)",
  90. ^ "Law Enforcement Training | Southern Poverty Law Center". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  91. ^ Ariosto, David (August 17, 2012). "SPLC draws conservative ire". CNN. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  92. ^ Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B. (2010). Hate Crimes: Causes, Controls, and Controversies (2 ed.). SAGE. p. 70.  
  93. ^ Finley, Laura (2011). Encyclopedia of School Crime and Violence. ABC-CLIO. p. 452.  
  94. ^ Conser, James A.; Paynich, Rebecca; Gingerich, Terry E. (2011). Law Enforcement in the United States (3 ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 410.  
  95. ^ Hate Crime Statistics: A Resource Book. DIANE Publishing. 1993. p. 103.  
  96. ^ "Hate Crime—Overview". FBI. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  97. ^ a b c "The Year in Hate and Extremism". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2013, Issue 149. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  98. ^ "Hate Group Numbers Up By 54% Since 2000". Southern Poverty Law Center. February 26, 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  99. ^ "Active U.S. Hate Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  100. ^ "Hate websites active in 2008". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2009, pp. 59-65.
  101. ^ Berger, J.M. (March 12, 2013). "The Hate List: Is America really being overrun by right-wing militants?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  102. ^ "Active 'Patriot' Groups in the United States in 2012". "The Year in Hate and Extremism". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2013, Issue 149. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  103. ^ "Nativist Extremist' Groups 2012". "The Year in Hate and Extremism". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2013, Issue 149. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  104. ^ Watkins, Tom (August 17, 2012). "After D.C. shooting, fingers point over blame". CNN. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  105. ^ Yager, Jordy (August 15, 2012). "Shooting spurs heated debate on gay rights, 'hate group' label". The Hill. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  106. ^ 'Hate', Immigration, and the Southern Poverty Law Center"". Harper's Magazine.
  107. ^ Wilcox, Laird, The Watchdogs, self-published through Editorial Research Service, (ISBN 0-933592-89-2)
  108. ^ a b Allen, Charlotte (April 15, 2013). "King of Fearmongers: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, scaring donors since 1971". Weekly Standard. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  109. ^  
  110. ^ SPLC's Anti-Gay Hate List Compiled With Diligence and Clear Standards
  111. ^ Brennan, Patrick (March 15, 2013). "The SPLC and Slant". National Review Online. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  112. ^ Jesse Walker (March 3, 2010). "Fearmongering at the SPLC". Reason. 
  113. ^ web pageGet InformedIntelligence Report Accessed December 18, 2010.
  114. ^ "Intelligence Report". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  115. ^ a b McVeigh, Rory (March 2004). "Structured Ignorance and Organized Racism in the United States".  
  116. ^ Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan Helped the Civil Rights Movement. David Mark Chalmers. p. 188
  117. ^ Untangling the web of hate: are online "hate sites" deserving of First Amendment Protection?. Brett A. Barnett
  118. ^ "Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity reading list".  
  119. ^ "Hatewatch Weekly". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  120. ^ Beirich, Heidi; Bob Moser (2004). "Communing with the Council". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  121. ^ "Green Eyeshade Awards 2004". Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  122. ^ Holthouse, David; Casey Sanchez (2007). "Southern Gothic". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  123. ^ "Green Eyeshade Awards 2007". Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  124. ^ "Intelligence Project Given Award", SPLC Report, Summer 2009, p. 5.
  125. ^ Betty A. Dobratz, Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile, The White Separatist Movement in the United States: "White Power, White Pride!", The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 1-3.
  126. ^ a b "Endowment Supports Center's Future Work". Southern Poverty Law Center. June 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  127. ^ "Attacking a Home-Town Icon" Jim Tharpe, Nieman Watchdog 1995.
  128. ^ Morse, Dan (February 14, 1994), "A complex man: Opportunist or crusader?", Montgomery Advertiser
  129. ^ Morse, Dan & Jaffe, Greg (February 14, 1994), "Critics question $52 million reserve, tactics of wealthiest civil rights group", Montgomery Advertiser
  130. ^ "1995 Finalists: Explanatory Journalism".  
  131. ^ Andrea Stone, "Morris Dees: At the Center of the Racial Storm," USA Today, August 3, 1996, A-7
  132. ^ Silverstein, Ken (March 22, 2010). Hate', Immigration, and the Southern Poverty Law Center"'".  
  133. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (November 9, 1998), "The Conscience Industry", The Nation, "Morris Dees has raised an endowment of close to $100 million, with which he's done little, by frightening elderly liberals that the heirs of Adolf Hitler are about to march down Main Street, lynching blacks and putting Jews into ovens. The fund raising of Dees and the richly rewarded efforts of terror mongers like Leonard Zeskind offer a dreadfully distorted view of American political realities."
  134. ^ Silverstein, Ken (November 1, 2000), "The Church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance", Harper's Magazine, p. 54
  135. ^ Silverstein, Ken (March 2, 2007), "This Week in Babylon: Southern Poverty: richer than Tonga", Harper's Magazine
  136. ^ SPLC Financial Information
  137. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center", Charity Navigator, retrieved June 12, 2011
  138. ^ [2]. Retrieved May 26, 2014.


At the time of the case Alabama was under the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit. In 1981 the circuit was split and Alabama was added to the newly created Eleventh Circuit


The SPLC stated that during 2008 it spent about 69% of total expenses on program services, and that at the end of 2008 the endowment stood at $156.2 million.[136] According to Charity Navigator, SPLC's 2009 outlays fell into the following categories: program expenses of 67.5%, administrative expenses of 13.4%, and fundraising expenses of 18.9%.[137] In October 2013 the SPLC reported its endowment at $281.1 million.[138]

The SPLC's activities including litigation are supported by fundraising efforts, and it does not accept any fees or share in legal judgments awarded to clients it represents in court.[126] Starting in 1974, the SPLC set aside money for its assets at the time.[131][132] Commentators Alexander Cockburn writing in The Nation and Ken Silverstein writing in Harper's Magazine have been sharply critical of the SPLC's fundraising appeals and finances.[133][134][135]


In their study of the white separatist movement in the United States, sociologists Betty A. Dobratz and Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile referred to the SPLC's Klanwatch Intelligence Reports in saying "we relied on the SPLC and [115]

Academic assessment

Since 2001, the SPLC has released an annual issue of the Intelligence Project called Year in Hate later renamed Year in Hate and Extremism, in which they present statistics on the numbers of hate groups in America. The current format of the report covers racial hate groups, nativist hate groups, and other right-wing extremist groups such as groups within the Patriot Movement.

Year in Hate and Extremism

Two articles published in Intelligence Report have won "Green Eyeshade Excellence in Journalism" awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. "Communing with the Council", written by Heidi Beirich and Bob Moser, took third place for Investigative Journalism in the Magazine Division in 2004,[120][121] and "Southern Gothic", by David Holthouse and Casey Sanchez, took second place for Feature Reporting in the Magazine Division in 2007.[122][123] On March 20, 2009, the Intelligence Project received a Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Immigration Law Foundation for its "outstanding work" covering the anti-immigration movement.[124]

[119] is "Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right".subtitle blog, whose Hatewatch, a newsletter that follows racism and extremism, and the HateWatch Weekly, the SPLC publishes Intelligence Report In addition to the [118][117][116][115] that monitors what the SPLC considers Intelligence Report Since 1981, the SPLC's Intelligence Project has published a quarterly

Intelligence Report

J.M. Berger of Foreign Policy disputes SPLC analysis in its Intelligence Report and Year in Hate and Extremism reports, and believes the SPLC carries a political slant. He also questions the methodologies used by the SPLC and suggests that it overstates the presence of extremists in the United States.[111] Jesse Walker, writing in the libertarian magazine Reason, charges the SPLC with discrimination and fear-mongering in its portrayal of Patriot groups.[112]

In 2010 it was reported that "22 Republican lawmakers, among them Speaker Boehner and Representative Bachmann, three governors, and a number of conservative organizations took out full-page ads in two Washington papers castigating the SPLC for 'character assassination' by listing the conservative Family Research Council as a hate group."[6][104][105] Critics including journalist Ken Silverstein and political fringe movements researcher Laird Wilcox have accused the SPLC of an incautious approach to assigning the label.[106][107][108] In the wake of an August 2012 shooting at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, some columnists criticized the SPLC's listing of the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group while others defended the categorization.[7][108][109] The SPLC defended its listing of anti-gay hate groups, stating that groups were selected not because of their stances on political issues such as gay marriage, but rather on their "propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people ... that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities".[110]


[103][97] The SPLC identified 38 groups which it lists as

Nativist extremist groups

The SPLC's Intelligence Project states that it "identified 1,360 anti-government 'Patriot' groups that were active in 2012" The SPLC describes these groups as parts of an extremist Patriot Movement characterized by anti-government doctrines, conspiracy theories or opposition to the New World Order. The SPLC states that its listing of groups does not imply that such groups "engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist".[97][102]

Anti-government patriot groups

J.M. Berger, writing for Foreign Policy, disputed the 2012 numbers and said that after merging separate groups of similar names "the list of 1,007 becomes a list of 358".[101]

The SPLC reported that 939 hate groups were active in the United States in 2013,[5] down from 1007 in 2012.[97] These included:

Number of SPLC hate groups per million, as of 2013

The SPLC maintains a list of hate groups defined as groups that "...have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." It says that hate group activities may include speeches, marches, rallies, meetings, publishing, leafleting, and criminal acts such as violence. It says not all groups so listed by the SPLC engage in criminal activity.[5] The FBI has partnered with the SPLC and many other local and national organizations "to establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems".[96]

Hate group listings

Tracking of hate groups and extremists

The SPLC offers training for local, state and federal law enforcement officers by request, focusing "on the history, background, leaders and activities of far-right extremists in the United States".[90][91][92][93][94][95]

Law enforcement training

The SPLC also produces documentary films. Two have won Academy Awards for documentary short subject: Mighty Times: The Children's March, in 2005, and A Time for Justice in 1995.[89] Another film was Wall of Tolerance, starring Jennifer Welker. Five others have been nominated for awards.


Teaching Tolerance also provides advice to parents, encouraging multiculturalism in the upbringing of their children.[84] A guide urges parents to "examine the 'diversity profile' of your children's friends," to move to "integrated and economically diverse neighborhoods," and to discourage children from playing with toys or adopting heroes that "promote violence." The publication also advises parents to use culturally sensitive language (such as the gender-neutral phrasing "Someone Special Day" instead of the traditional Mothers Day and Fathers Day) and to make sure that "cultural diversity (is) reflected in your home's artwork, music and literature."

A similar program aimed at middle and high school pupils includes a "Mix it Up" project urging readers to participate in school activities involving interaction between different social groups.[88] Other features of this project includes political activism tips and reports highlighting student activism. The SPLC puts out a monthly publication typically focusing on a minority, diversity education.

The site's Teaching Tolerance initiative is aimed at two different age groups of students with separate materials for teachers and parents. One portion of the project targets elementary school children, providing material on the history of the civil rights movement.[87] The center's material for elementary school children includes a publication entitled "A fresh look at multicultural 'American English'" which explores the cultural history of common words. A project website includes an interactive program addressing such topics as Native American school mascots, displays of the Confederate flag, and the themes of popular music and entertainment, encouraging pupils to consider racial, gender, and sexual orientation sensitivities.

The SPLC's initiatives include the website, past winner of the international Webby Award.[84] The site provides daily news on tolerance issues, educational games for children, guidebooks for activists, and resources for parents and teachers.[85][86]

Closeup of the Civil Rights Memorial


The SPLC has spoken against Arizona SB 1070, the anti-illegal immigration measure passed by the state of Arizona in 2010, calling it "brazenly unconstitutional" and "a civil rights disaster". In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case, Arizona v. United States, upholding the provision requiring immigration status checks during law enforcement stops but striking down three other provisions as violations of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

Opposition to Arizona illegal immigration measure


In a related criminal case in February 2007, Jarred Hensley and Andrew Watkins had been sentenced to three years in prison for beating Gruver.[80] On November 14, 2008, an all-white jury of seven men and seven women awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff against Ron Edwards, Imperial Wizard of the group, and Jarred Hensley, who participated in the attack.[82] The two other defendants, Andrew Watkins and Joshua Cowles, previously agreed to confidential settlements and were dropped from the suit.[83]

In November 2008, the SPLC's case against the Meade County, Kentucky.[80] The SPLC filed suit in July 2007 on behalf of Jordan Gruver and his mother against the IKA in Kentucky where in July 2006, five Klansmen savagely beat Gruver at a Kentucky county fair.[81] According to the lawsuit, five Klan members went to the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Kentucky, "to hand out business cards and flyers advertising a 'white-only' IKA function."[81] Two members of the Klan started calling the 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent a "spic".[81] Subsequently the boy, (5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) and weighing 150 pounds (68 kg)) was beaten and kicked by the Klansmen (one of whom was 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) and 300 pounds (140 kg)). As a result, the victim received "two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, multiple cuts and bruises and jaw injuries requiring extensive dental repair."[81]

Imperial Klans of America

Billy Ray Johnson, a black, mentally disabled man, was taken by four white males to a party where he was knocked unconscious then dropped on his head, referred to as a "nigger", and left in a ditch bleeding.[74][75] Due to the event, "Johnson, 46, who suffered serious, permanent brain injuries from the attack, will require care for the rest of his life."[76][77] At a criminal trial the four men received sentences of 30 to 60 days in county jail.[74][78] On April 20, 2007, Billy Ray Johnson was awarded $9 million in damages by a civil jury in Linden, Texas.[75][77][79] The jury hoped that the verdict would improve race relations in the community stemming from a United States Department of Education investigation and other controversial verdicts. During the trial one of the defendants, Cory Hicks, referred to Johnson as "it."[74]

Billy Ray Johnson

In 2003, SPLC, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and local attorneys filed a civil suit, Leiva v. Ranch Rescue, in Jim Hogg County, Texas, against Ranch Rescue and several of its associates, seeking damages for assault and illegal detention. In April 2005, SPLC obtained judgments totaling $1 million against Nethercott and Torre John Foote, Ranch Rescue's leader. Those awards came six months after a $350,000 judgment in the same case and coincided with a $100,000 out-of-court settlement with Sutton. Nethercott’s 70-acre (280,000 m2) Arizona property, which was Ranch Rescue's headquarters, was seized to pay the judgment. Nethercott, previously convicted of assault in California, was sentenced to five years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. SPLC staff worked closely with Texas prosecutors to obtain that conviction.[52][73]

According to the SPLC, Gonzáles and Medina were held at gunpoint, and Gonzáles was struck on the back of the head with a handgun, and a rottweiler was allowed to attack him. The SPLC said Gonzáles and Medina were threatened with death and otherwise terrorized before being released.[52] The El Salvadorans stated that the ranchers gave them water, cookies and a blanket before letting them go after about an hour. Ranch Rescuer Casey James Nethercott denied hitting either of the trespassers with a gun, and none of the vigilantes were convicted of pistol-whipping.[72]

On March 18, 2003, two illegal aliens from El Salvador, Edwin Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles and Fátima del Socorro Leiva Medina, were trespassing through a Texas ranch owned by Joseph Sutton. They were accosted by vigilantes known as Ranch Rescue who were recruited by Sutton to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border region nearby.[52]

Ranch rescue

In 2002, the SPLC and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for placing a two-ton display of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.[70] Moore, who had final authority over what decorations were to be placed in the Alabama State Judicial Building's Rotunda, had installed a 5,280 pound (2400 kg) granite block, three feet wide by three feet deep by four feet tall, of the Ten Commandments late at night without the knowledge of any other court justice.[71] After defying several court rulings, Moore was eventually removed from the court, and the monument was removed as well.

Ten Commandments monument

In September 2000, the SPLC won a $6.3 million judgment against the Aryan Nations from an Idaho jury who awarded punitive and compensatory damages to a woman and her son who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards.[8] The lawsuit stemmed from the July 1998 attack when security guards at the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake, in northern Idaho. The guards shot at Victoria Keenan and her son.[67] Bullets struck their car several times, causing the car to crash. An Aryan Nations member then held the Keenans at gunpoint.[67] As a result of the judgement, Richard Butler turned over the 20-acre (81,000 m2) compound to the Keenans, who then sold the property to a philanthropist who subsequently donated it to North Idaho College, which designated the land as a "peace park."[68] Because of the lawsuit, members of the AN drew up a plan to kill Dees, which was disrupted by the FBI.[69]

Aryan Nations

The SPLC won a $37.8 million verdict on behalf of Macedonia Baptist Church, a 100-year-old black church in Manning, South Carolina, against two Ku Klux Klan chapters and five Klansmen (Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and Invisible Empire, Inc.) in July 1998.[64] The money was awarded stemming from arson convictions in which the Klan burned down the historic black church in 1995.[65] Morris Dees told the press, "If we put the Christian Knights out of business, what's that worth? We don't look at what we can collect. It's what the jury thinks this egregious conduct is worth that matters, along with the message it sends."[66] According to The Washington Post the amount is the "largest-ever civil award for damages in a hate crime case."[66]

Christian Knights of the KKK

In May 1991, Harold Mansfield Jr, a black war veteran in the United States Navy, was murdered by a member of the neo-Nazi "Church of the Creator" (now called the Creativity Movement). SPLC represented the victim's family in a civil case and won a judgement of $1 million from the church in March 1994.[62] The church transferred ownership to William Pierce, head of the National Alliance, to avoid paying money to Mansfield's heirs. The SPLC filed suit against Pierce for his role in the fraudulent scheme and won an $85,000 judgment against him in 1995.[63] The amount was upheld on appeal and the money was collected prior to Pierce's death in 2002.[63]

Church of the Creator

On November 13, 1988, in Portland, Oregon, three white supremacist members of East Side White Pride and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) beat Mulugeta Seraw to death. Seraw was an Ethiopian man who came to the United States to attend college.[57] In October 1990, the SPLC won a civil case on behalf of Seraw's family against WAR's operator Tom Metzger and his son, John Metzger, for a total of $12.5 million.[58][59] The Metzgers declared bankruptcy, and WAR went out of business. The cost of work for the trial was absorbed by the Anti-Defamation League as well as the SPLC.[60] Metzger still makes payments to Seraw's family.[61]

White Aryan Resistance

In 1987, the SPLC successfully brought a civil case against the United Klans of America (UKA) for the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama by two of the UKA's members.[54] Unable to come up with the $7 million awarded by the jury, the UKA was forced to turn over its national headquarters to Donald's mother, who then sold it for $51,875 and used the money to purchase her first house.[55][56]

United Klans of America

Within a year the court found Miller and his followers, now calling themselves the White Patriot Party, in criminal contempt for violating the consent order. Miller was sentenced to six months in prison followed by a three-year probationary period, during which he was banned from associating with members of any racist group such as the White Patriot Party. Miller refused to obey the terms of his probation. He made underground "declarations of war" against Jews and the federal government before being arrested again. Found guilty of weapons violations, he went to federal prison for three years.[52][53]

[51] In January 1985, the court issued a

In 1982 armed members of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan terrorized Bobby Person, a black prison guard and members of his family. They harassed and threatened others, including a white woman who had befriended blacks. In 1984 Person became the lead plaintiff in Person v. Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a lawsuit brought by the SPLC in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The harassment and threats continued during litigation and the court issued an order prohibiting any person from interfering with others inside the courthouse.[51]

White Patriot Party

[50] In 1981, the SPLC took

Vietnamese fishermen

In 1969, prior to founding the SPLC, Dees sued the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[40] which would have forbidden them to discriminate against children on the basis of race.[41] However, Dees discovered that, in order to avoid desegregating its recreational facilities,[39] the city of Montgomery had instead signed a secret agreement with the YMCA to operate them as private facilities but on the city's behalf.[41] This fact led the trial court to rule that the YMCA had a "municipal charter" and was therefore bound by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to desegregate its facilities.[42] According to historian Timothy Minchin, Dees was "emboldened by this victory" when he founded the SPLC in 1971.[41] The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit later affirmed the trial judge's finding, reversing only his order that the YMCA use affirmative action to racially integrate its board of directors.[43]

Young Men's Christian Association in Montgomery, Alabama

The Southern Poverty Law Center has won multiple civil cases resulting in monetary awards for the plaintiffs. The SPLC has said it does not accept any portion of monetary judgments.[35][36] Dees and the SPLC "have been credited with devising innovative legal ways to cripple hate groups, including seizing their assets."[37]


In 2008, the SPLC and Dees were featured on National Geographic '​s Inside American Terror exploring their litigation against several branches of the Ku Klux Klan.[34]

In July 2007, the SPLC filed suit against the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) in Meade County, where in July 2006 five Klansmen allegedly beat Jordan Gruver, a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent, at a Kentucky county fair.[19] After filing the suit, the SPLC received nearly a dozen threats.[19] During the November 2008 civil trial, a former member of the IKA said that the Klan head told him to kill Dees.[33]

The SPLC has been criticized for using hyperbole and overstating the prevalence of hate groups to raise large amounts of money. In a 2000 Harper's Magazine article, Ken Silverstein said that Dees has kept the SPLC focused on fighting anti-minority groups like the KKK, whose membership has declined to just 2,000, instead of on issues like homelessness, mostly because the former issue makes for more lucrative fundraising. The article also claimed that the SPLC "spends twice as much on fund-raising--$5.76 million last year--as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses."[32] Harper's also pointed out that more than 95% of hate crimes are committed by lone wolves without any connection to militia groups the SPLC speaks of.[32]

In 1999[30] the SPLC broke ground on their new headquarters building. It was completed in 2001.[31]

In May 1998, three white supremacists were arrested for allegedly planning a nationwide campaign of assassinations and bombings targeting "Morris Dees, an undisclosed federal judge in Illinois, a black radio-show host in Missouri, Dees's Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, and the Anti-Defamation League in New York."[29]

In October 1990, the SPLC won $12.5 million in damages against Tom Metzger and his White Aryan Resistance when a Portland, Oregon, jury held the neo-Nazi group liable in the beating death of an Ethiopian immigrant.[26] While Metzger lost his home and ability to publish material, the full amount of the multi-million dollar reward was not recovered.[27] In 1995, a group of four white males were indicted for planning to blow up the SPLC.[28] The Center's "Teaching Tolerance" project was initiated in 1991, and its "Klanwatch" program has gradually expanded to include other anti-hate monitoring projects and a list of reported hate groups in the United States.

In 1989, the Center unveiled its Civil Rights Memorial, which was designed by Maya Lin.[25]

The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery

[24], were indicted for stealing military weaponry and plotting to kill Dees.White Patriot Party In 1987, five members of a Klan offshoot, the [23]. Its national headquarters was sold for approximately $52,000 to help satisfy the judgment.bankruptcy The verdict forced United Klans of America into [22] In 1987, SPLC won a case against the

In 1984, Dees became an assassination target of The Order, a revolutionary white supremacist group.[20] Another target, radio host Alan Berg, was killed by the group outside his Colorado home.[21]

[19] According to Dees over 30 people have been jailed in connection with plots to kill him or blow up the center.[18] In July 1983, the center's office was

[16] The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by civil rights lawyers

The SPLC headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama.



  • History 1
  • Litigation 2
    • Young Men's Christian Association in Montgomery, Alabama 2.1
    • Vietnamese fishermen 2.2
    • White Patriot Party 2.3
    • United Klans of America 2.4
    • White Aryan Resistance 2.5
    • Church of the Creator 2.6
    • Christian Knights of the KKK 2.7
    • Aryan Nations 2.8
    • Ten Commandments monument 2.9
    • Ranch rescue 2.10
    • Billy Ray Johnson 2.11
    • Imperial Klans of America 2.12
  • Advocacy 3
    • Opposition to Arizona illegal immigration measure 3.1
  • Education 4
    • 4.1
    • Documentaries 4.2
    • Law enforcement training 4.3
  • Tracking of hate groups and extremists 5
    • Hate group listings 5.1
    • Anti-government patriot groups 5.2
    • Nativist extremist groups 5.3
    • Controversy 5.4
    • Intelligence Report 5.5
    • Year in Hate and Extremism 5.6
    • Academic assessment 5.7
  • Finances 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

The SPLC does not accept government funds, nor does it charge its clients legal fees or share in their court-awarded judgments. Most of its funds come from direct mail campaigns[15] which have helped it to build substantial monetary reserves. Its fundraising appeals and accumulation of reserves have been the subject of some criticism.


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