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Counter protesters and Ku Klux Klan members argue at a Klan demonstration at the state house building in Columbia, SC on July 18, 2015.
John Moore—Getty Images

The number of hate groups in the U.S. rose 14 percent in 2015, the first recorded increase in five years, according a group which tracks extremist organizations and activity.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said the change was driven in part by a surge in the number of Ku Klux Klan chapters, which more than doubled between 2014 (with 72 chapters) and 2015 (with 190 chapters). The findings were published exclusively in the Washington Post.

The SPLC also observed a major spike in the number of black separatist groups, up to 180 in 2015 from 113 the year prior. Mark Potok, the report’s author, said their rise can be attributed to the popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement but noted that — unlike the mainstream movement — these separatist groups held extremist positions that “demonized” LGBT, Jewish and white people.

The number of anti-Muslim, anti-gay and anti-immigrant hate groups also increased.

“It was a year marked by very high levels of political violence, enormous rage in the electorate and a real significant growth in hate groups,” Potok said.

[Washington Post]

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