The SPLC’s definition of a hate group is “an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” including race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It’s a standard that is in line with the latest thinking among scholars of hate, and also one that intentionally parallels the FBI’s definition of a hate crime.
Does an alliance of lawyers with conservative Christian leanings that has won nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the past seven years meet that criteria? According to Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project — which produces the hate list — the decision to put the Alliance Defending Freedom on the list for 2016 was a judgment call that went all the way up to top leadership at the SPLC.
The FBI has not designated the Proud Boys, whose members routinely appear at right-wing protests in downtown Portland, as an extremist group, Oregon’s top FBI agent said Tuesday.
The FBI never intended to do so when it briefed Clark County law enforcement leaders recently about regional threats, Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon said during a wide-ranging meeting with media at the bureau’s Portland headquarters.
His comments directly counter an internal Clark County Sheriff’s Office memo that suggested otherwise and drew national attention.
In the FBI’s slide show in Clark County, agents talked about the Proud Boys, white supremacists, militia groups and anarchists, Cannon said.
Started in 2016 by conservative writer Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys have billed themselves as “pro-Western fraternal organization” and have vigorously fought accusations by critics that members are associated with white nationalists.