New Jersey is Home to 40 Hate Groups, Report Says
New Jersey has more hate groups than nearly any other state, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The data, included in SPLC's annual Intelligence Report, cite 40 hate groups across the Garden State, ranking it behind only California, Florida and New York.
According to Mark Potok of SPLC, for quite a few years, New Jersey has had a "rather thriving skinhead scene." The subgroup made up more than half of New Jersey's list with organizations located from as far south as Wildwood to as far north as Haledon.
"I would say that racist skinheads, with which New Jersey is particularly plagued, do tend to be an especially violent group of people," Potok said. "They are certainly dangerous to people around them, as well as to each other."
Not every group is violence-focused, though, such as the black separatist group known as the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, which reportedly has four locations in New Jersey.
"Even if they are not involved in violence, they are certainly promulgating a kind of ideology that, in effect, ultimately does justify and romanticize violence," Potok said.
The report also pointed to a Ku Klux Klan chapter in Trenton, as well as a record label in Maple Shade that focuses primarily on "white power" music and merchandise.
Nick Irons, professor of criminal justice at the County College of Morris, said it's difficult to pinpoint an exact reason for the abundance of these groups in New Jersey.
"We are centrally located, we have a huge population, and we're also right in the middle of many outside immigrants coming into the state, and people have had problems with those kinds of folks," Irons said.
According to the latest bias incident statistics from the State Police, there were 459 such offenses in 2013, representing a 17 percent drop from the year prior. The stats would not indicate whether "hate groups" were to blame for any or all of the incidents, but in most cases, the offender had no relationship to the victim.