BOISE — The number of hate groups in Idaho declined in the past year, according to one watchdog group, a statistic that bucks a national trend that saw the number of hate groups swell to an all-time high.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit with roots in fighting racism and civil rights violations, tracked 10 active hate groups in Idaho in 2018, according to a report released in February.
There were 12 active groups across the state the previous year by the center’s count.
The center categorizes hate groups as those who “attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to previous Statesman reporting. It compiles information from groups’ publications and websites, but it’s not clear whether the organization ever reaches out to groups on the list.
Four groups identified in 2017 are no longer on the list: the Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center, Pig Blood Bullets (which appears to be a North Idaho company that sold bullets coated in pork-infused paint), Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and white nationalist group True Cascadia.
“There are groups that stay underground ... or go dormant and aren’t included on our list,” said Keegan Hankes, a senior research analyst for the SPLC.
In this case, the Idaho groups appear to have become dormant. But new organizations have cropped up in their place, according to the center.
The 2018 report saw the addition of two hate groups: The American Guard, a statewide organization categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “general hate” group; and G416 Patriots, a Meridian-based group classified as “anti-Muslim.”
A Facebook group for Idaho G416 Patriots states that its mission is to “tell the truth about Islam” while defending the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. G416 Patriots appears to be a new moniker for an existing group — the Idaho branch of Act! for America, which the center also included as one of the 10 Idaho hate groups. According to the group’s Facebook page, group moderators changed the name in July 2018.
Hankes said the midyear name change would explain why both Act! and G416 Patriots appeared on the 2018 list.
“One of the features of the hate map is that any group that shows any activity in the calendar year is counted,” Keegan said.
Act! for America was also on Idaho’s hate group list in 2017, and the Southern Poverty Law Center considers it an anti-Muslim organization as well.
The Statesman reached out to G416 Facebook group moderators and American Guard leadership; neither returned requests for comment.
Additionally, Independent History & Research, which appears on the 2018 list, has previously appeared under the name Campaign for Radical Truth in History. It’s run by a Coeur d’Alene man and is categorized as a Holocaust denial group.
The other Idaho hate groups identified in 2018 are America’s Promise Ministries, the Brother Nathanael Foundation, Crew 38, Endangered Souls RC/Crew 519, Lordship Church and Northwest Hammerskins.
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracked more than 1,000 groups across the country in 2018, a record number.
And though Idaho saw a decline in the number of hate groups in the state, it still joins South Dakota and Montana as having the most hate groups per capita in the country.
In 2017, the Idaho State Police said it handled 51 reports of hate crimes across the state, a nearly 16 percent increase from the previous year. In recent years, Idaho has earned the No. 2 and No. 1 spots in 24/7 Wall Street’s analyses of “most hateful states,” though the number of hate groups is down from a high of 18 in 2011.
Of course, some organizations on the list dispute the moniker assigned to them by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last spring, former Statesman reporter Sven Berg spoke with Pastor Warren Mark Campbell, whose Lordship Church has been categorized as a “general hate” group since 2015. Campbell said “it’s absurd to call his church a hate group,” but he said he believes that openly gay individuals should face criminal charges.
Campbell is not the only one to criticize the Southern Poverty Law Center. Some individuals told Berg that they question the center’s funding models, with one Yale University professor going so far as to call the Southern Poverty Law Center “a fraudulent operation.” In a Washington Post Magazine article published in November, some questioned the nonprofit’s criteria for calling an organization a “hate group.”
“Any list is just one means of understanding what hate activity is in the community,” Hankes told the Statesman.
If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.
TWIN FALLS — South Central Public Health District’s Tanis Maxwell had never encountered a confirmed case of the measles — let alone an outbreak — here in Idaho.
But after working side by side in February with Clark County, Washington’s public health district officials to help control the area’s measles outbreak, the epidemiology program manager gained valuable information to bring back to south-central Idaho.
“We want to be prepared as a health district to respond to an outbreak like they had in Washington,” Maxwell said Thursday, and to protect the community and prevent disease from spreading.
Maxwell spent about two weeks — from Feb. 4 to Feb. 17 — at Clark County Public Health. The agency has confirmed 65 measles cases in Clark County since Jan. 1 and is currently investigating four possible cases, according to a Thursday announcement on its website.
After Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a state of emergency in late January due to the measles outbreak, Clark County Public Health sought help from Idaho public health districts. Maxwell and a nurse from the Panhandle Health District in northern Idaho agreed to spend time in Clark County.
Maxwell was on a case investigation team.
“We dealt with the confirmed cases and the household contacts,” she said.
The team facilitated testing for suspected cases of the measles, made calls to households and medical providers, and helped assist medical providers in whether to test certain patients for the measles.
When a family had a confirmed case of measles in their household, public health officials educated them on the symptoms and what to watch for.
If a family member couldn’t prove their immunity to measles, they were told to stay home and be monitored for 21 days.
The health district told family members to either provide their immunization records or undergo a blood draw to show they’re immune to measles if they couldn’t recall whether they’d received the vaccine.
“It’s really important to know if you’re immune or not,” Maxwell said.
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But due to pockets of the population that haven’t received the vaccine, some areas of the country — like Clark County — have seen outbreaks in recent years.
Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air by breathing, sneezing and coughing, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include a rash, runny nose, cough, fever up to 104 degrees and red watery eyes. Complications can include pneumonia, convulsions, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and death.
Idaho children are required to receive certain immunizations in order to enroll in school. But parents can fill out a state exemption form if they choose not to immunize their child. They must cite a reason for their decision, such as a philosophical, medical or religious objection.