KALISPELL, Mont. - This week the Southern Poverty Law Center released new data they say indicates the number of apparent hate groups and "patriot" groups operating in the United States.
The nonprofit describes "patriot" groups as conspiracy-minded and anti-government. Their report claims 1,360 patriot groups were operating in the United States in 2012, up 813 percent since 2008. Staff say that number includes 321 militia groups.
The group claims that more than 20 of the patriot groups operate in Montana as of 2012.
The nonprofit also claims that there were 12 "hate groups" operating in Montana in 2012, including alleged chapters of the KKK in Polson and Great Falls.
One group listed is Pioneer Little Europe, which reportedly seeks to encourage white Americans to move to the Flathead. NBC Montana sent a message to an email address listed on the group's apparent blog site, and got a response from April Gaede, who said that the SPLC's "hate map" is outdated, and that the term "hate group" is meaningless, and that it has no legal definition.
One group in the Flathead, called Love Lives Here, seeks to offset messages put out by alleged hate groups.
"Our organization wants to be vocal about the alternative to the nationalist hate groups, white supremacists. This is not the message or the atmosphere or the community that we want to live in," said Ina Albert, co-chair of Love Lives Here.
Love Lives Here recently became legally affiliated with the Montana Human Rights Network. The group's next project is an event at Flathead Valley Community College called "100 Days Past Sandy Hook," which is a panel discussion featuring multiple speakers. That event will start at 6:00 pm on March 22 in the college's arts and technology building. Folks looking for more information can call Reverend Julia McKay at 406-755- 9255.