Hate group count tops 1,000

Graphic from Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that for the the first time the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. tops 1,000.

For the first time last year, SPLC included organizations like the National Organization for Marriage as anti-LGBT hate groups that promote violence.

SPLC attributes the increase to three factors:

resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.

SPLC, based in Montgomery, Ala., has been tracking hate groups since the 1980s. The number of groups has increased during Democratic as well as Republican administrations. Every year since 2000 has seen an increase.

The most violent groups are so-called “patriot” groups that have killed eight law-enforcement officers since President Barack Obama took office.

Of the total, Texas has 59 hate groups listed, second only to California’s 68 hate groups. In Texas, the Bethesda Christian Institute in San Antonio is the only anti-gay hate group listed. Most of the Texas groups are Nazi or KKK. Dallas is home to the Confederate Hammerskins, a racist skinhead group. Fort Worth has a chapter of the Klan and a Nation of Islam group. Richardson and Irving are home to white nationalist organizations.

Only one anti-immigrant hate group is listed in Texas — the Border Guardians in Livingston, about 75 miles northeast of Houston and several hundred miles from the border.

Among the anti-gay hate groups are the Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs, the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., and the Traditional Values Coalition in Anaheim, Calif.

The state with the fewest hate groups is first-in-the-nation-with-civil-unions Vermont, with just two competing chapters of the Klan.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: We received a note from Focus on the Family, which I had listed with the other groups. They are not and never were one of the hate groups.

Liberty Counsel, Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries and National Organization for Marriage are groups whose anti-gay activities SPLC looked into but whose homophobia did not rise to the level of hate group.

Abiding Truth Ministries, American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, American Vision, Chalcedon Foundation, Dove World Outreach Center, Faithful Word Baptist Church, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute, Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, Illinois Family Institute, MassResistance and Traditional Values Coalition are listed as hate groups.

—  David Taffet

Top 10: Rare bathhouse raid sparked controversy

No. 10:

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When Dallas vice officers raided The Club Dallas on Oct. 8 for the first time in recent memory, it made national news and gave rise to some conspiracy theories. Some said the raid was part of a city effort to shut down the gay bathhouse to make way for redevelopment around a new DART rail station, which sits directly adjacent to the 34-year-old establishment at 2616 Swiss Ave. in Deep Ellum. Others said the raid was politically motivated since it came just before a major election, as such crackdowns have historically tended to do. Still others, of course, felt it was an example of law enforcement targeting the gay community.

But the Dallas Police Department, in a rare statement issued by the vice unit several days later, said the raid was conducted in response to a complaint from a citizen. “The Dallas Police Department is charged with the duty of investigating, enforcing, and responding to citizen complaints regarding sexually oriented businesses throughout the city,” the statement read in part. “The Vice Unit is committed to being responsive to community concerns and thus, conducts its investigations in an equitable and just manner.”

Indeed, records obtained by Dallas Voice through a Freedom of Information request confirm that an unidentified person made a complaint to police about the club on Oct. 5. Three days later, on a Friday night, plainclothes vice officers purchased day memberships, rented private rooms and changed into towels. Then they went into the common areas of the business and observed patrons engaged in sex acts, according to police reports.

After uniformed officers were called in, police arrested seven patrons on charges of public lewdness and three on charges of indecent exposure. They also arrested a manager for interfering with police after he refused to let in the uniformed officers, who eventually forced open a door.

Club members and others accused the Police Department of harassment and intimidation. They also argued that raiding the gay bathhouse would only drive men looking for sex into parks and public restrooms.

The Club Dallas bailed its members out of jail and said it would provide attorneys.

Meanwhile, according to police records, the person who made the complaint called back on Oct. 13 and asked authorities to raid the business again. Despite the second complaint, vice officers haven’t returned to Club Dallas.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

DPD says Club Dallas complaint came from ‘citizen,’ no arrests made in private rooms

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.
Laura Martin

Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s liaison officer to the gay community, just forwarded a statement from DPD’s vice unit that provides additional information about a controversial Oct. 8 raid of The Club Dallas that resulted in 11 arrests. The statement from the vice unit apparently seeks to dispel some of the conspiracy theories that have arisen about the raid of the gay bathhouse in Deep Ellum, including that it was designed to shut down the business to make way for redevelopment around a DART rail station, and that it was orchestrated for political purposes less than a month before an election.

The statement from DPD’s vice unit says the department received a complaint from “a citizen” related to The Club Dallas on Oct. 5, three days before the raid. “The citizen stated that the management was renting out rooms for the viewing of adult movies and use as motel rooms,” according to the statement. “The rooms were allegedly being used for sexual activities.” Martin has said that when the vice unit receives a complaint, they are bound to respond in the same way that patrol officers must respond to 911 calls.

The statement doesn’t specifically say whether the citizen was a Club Dallas member, and Martin declined to confirm this. However, given the details in the complaint about what was going on inside the club, a reasonable person might conclude that it came from a member.

Also of note in the statement, the vice unit points out that none of the arrests were made in private rooms at The Club Dallas. In other words, even though the complaint related to the use of those rooms, undercover officers who bought day memberships to the club didn’t have to take their investigation that far: “Officers observed a large number of individuals engaging in sexual activity. These acts were occurring in the public areas of the spa, which include the pool area, hallway, and other common areas.”

Dallas Voice has filed a Freedom of Information request for all records related to the raid. Among other things, the Police Department has only released reports related to three of the 11 people who were arrested.

Anyhow, here’s the full statement from DPD’s vice unit, which came across late Wednesday morning:

On October 5, 2010, the Vice Unit received a complaint from a citizen regarding an alleged sexually oriented business violation at 2616 Swiss Avenue. The citizen stated that the management was renting out rooms for the viewing of adult movies and use as motel rooms. The rooms were allegedly being used for sexual activities.

On October 8, 2010, undercover officers entered the location to investigate the allegations articulated in the citizen complaint. Officers purchased a day membership and entered the location. Officers observed a large number of individuals engaging in sexual activity. These acts were occurring in the public areas of the spa, which include the pool area, hallway, and other common areas.

Ten arrests were made for the Texas Penal Code violations of Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure. These acts were occurring in a public place. Arrests were not made for the acts taking place in the private rooms. One arrest was made for Interference with Public Duties, Peace Officer, when the manager refused admittance to uniformed police officers responding to assist the undercover officers.

As a result of the investigation it was determined the allegations made in the citizen’s complaint were accurate. There has been no vice investigative activity or complaints received at this location in several years.

The Dallas Police Department is charged with the duty of investigating, enforcing, and responding to citizen complaints regarding sexually oriented businesses throughout the city. The Vice Unit is committed to being responsive to community concerns and thus, conducts its investigations in an equitable and just manner.

—  John Wright