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What to do When Hate Groups Come to Town

  * Recommendations of PA Human Relations Commission(PHRC)
  * Community Response Guide from Southern Poverty Law Center
  * Case Histories
  * More on Hate Groups: Tracking the Right Wing

Who to call:
    Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
        717-783-8438 or 717-787-4410
    Pennsylvania Network of Unity Coalitions
    Pennsylvania Alliance for Democracy

Recommendations of
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC)
    Community Leaders
        Do's and Don'ts
        So Now What Do You Do?
        Ten Points to Remember When Responding to Hate Groups
    Unity Groups   
        What Do Unity Groups Do?
        Ten Ways to Sustain Unity Groups
    PHRC Resource List
        Recommended Response & Prevention of Racial/Ethnic/Religious Tensions in Schools & Communities

Do's And Don'ts For Community Leaders
Human Relations Strategies

    1. Listen carefully to your critics and to those who feel they are being mistreated, i.e., try to understand and show concern for their pain and frustration (does not require that you agree).
    2. Take the lead in encouraging your subordinates and community to come to terms with diversity and see it as a force for good.
    3. Act responsibly, mindful that your actions have direct repercussions on the well-being of various individuals and the larger community.
    4. Report hate crimes and incidents to the appropriate authorities -- state police, state and local human relations commissions, prosecutor, superintendent, etc.
    5. Recognize that hatred and prejudice are a sign of weakness and insecurity, often exposing feelings of vulnerability -- economic, social, personal, etc.
    6. When responding to hate incidents/tensions keep this question in mind "Will this help to create a community where everyone is safe and respected?"
    7. Engage in proactive and preventative activity fostering interaction between groups in social, civic, religious and educational settings.
    8. Recognize that prejudice reduction and building trust and cooperation between groups and between government groups and community leaders is a long-term process and that credibility and trust are built with consistency.
    9. By action and words demonstrate that you and your office do not condone and tolerate bigotry.
    10. Offer reassurance/comfort to those who are threatened or hurt by bigotry.
    11. Use diversity/multicultural training programs.
    12. Communicate with the public through hearings, advisory committees, newspaper columns, interviews, and one-on-one contacts.
    13. Communicate openly and frequently. (Don't be removed from those you serve. Make it a point to get to know them personally and well.)
    14. Create partnerships with the community on various projects: for example, plan human relations training programs for police; work with the school board to create a multicultural diversity committee; establish an office to assist victims of hate crimes; cosponsor a bias prevention forum .
    15. Encourage the media to deal with stories thoughtfully, comprehensively and responsibly .
    16. Engage in long-term joint efforts with others in your community.

    1. Don't judge the many by the few, i.e., generalize/stereotype.
    2. Don't confuse victims and perpetrators, i.e., blame the victim for the problem or scapegoat.
    3. Don't make judgments on reputation, hearsay or rumor.
    4. Don't assume that problems will dissipate if ignored.
    5. Don't fail to recognize conditions that feed hate and tensions. "Isolated incidents" are rarely that.
    6. Don't engage in behavior that demonstrates insensitivity/prejudice if you expect to admonish others for engaging in such behavior.
    7. Don't be unavailable/unwilling, inaccessible to meet with victim group members and those who feel they are being treated unfairly .
    8. Don't vacillate. Be firm and clear in condemning hate and taking corrective action or meting out punishment.
    9. Don't fail to admit your own mistakes, shortcomings, and gaps in your knowledge.
    10. Don't hesitate to ask for help from experts and colleagues in other communities.
    11. Don't engage in public debate/discussions with hatemongers. This spurs them on and helps to legitimize them.
    12. Don't let personal agendas get in the way of building community coalitions.
Compiled by: Anti-Defamation League, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Institute for Cultural Partnerships, Balch Institute

So Now What Do You Do?

1. Get together. Speak up. Form a unity coalition.
2. Define yourselves - unity, diversity, non-violence.
        Unity Pledge - signed by community
        Unity symbols - ribbon, poster
        Build unity through fellowship
3. Persuade elected officials and government leaders to take a forceful, public stand against hate/intolerance and for unity/diversity.
4. Do not bite! When they are on your streets, do not interact, do not take their literature, do not confront.
5. Redirect energy and attention positively - community harmony events.
6. Make sure your school district has a curriculum that enhances intergroup understanding and cultural awareness/conflict resolution training for all staff.
7. Set up avenues for adult education...on-going!
        Religious groups
        Civic and community groups
        Chamber of Commerce
8. Include youth.
        Listen to them.
        Plan with them, not for them.
9. Keep the police and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission informed of any hate activity.
10. Reach out to people who hate.
      Support people who have been victimized.


A. Van Dyke, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, (717) 783-8438

Ten Points to Remember When Responding to Hate Groups

1. Document the problem and stay informed. Your first step should be to conduct thorough research about hate group activities and bigoted violence in your community. Develop a chronology of incidents drawing on newspaper accounts, victim reports and other sources Stay informed about developments by clipping your local newspaper, subscribing to other publications and networking with other individuals and agencies.

2. Speak out and create a moral barrier to hate activity. Communities that ignore the problem of hate group activity and bigoted violence can sometimes create the impression that they don’t care. This silence is often interpreted by hate groups as an invitation to step-up their activities. Through press conferences, rallies, community meetings and public hearings you can create a climate of public opinion that condemns racism and bigotry right from the start.

3. Match the solution to the problem Whatever strategy you use to respond should be tailored to the specific situation you are dealing with: don’t rely on rigid, formula-type solutions.

4. Build coalitions Hate violence and bigotry against one targeted group helps to legitimize activities against other groups. If you involve a wide spectrum of people representing divers constituencies, you will have a better chance of achieving a unified, effective response.

5. Assist victims. Providing support and aid to hate violence victims is central to any response strategy. Don’t get so busy organizing press conferences and issuing proclamations that you forget to make a house call and express your personal support.

6. Work with constituencies targeted for recruitment. People who join hate groups usually do so out of frustration, fear and anger; they might even be your neighbors next door. By offering meaningful social, economic, spiritual and political alternatives you can discourage participation in hate groups by the very people most vulnerable to recruitment.

7. Target your own community as well as the hate group. Organizations like the Ku Klux Klan don’t create social conflict out of thin air, they have to feed off existing community tensions in order to exist. The enemy of community harmony is not always the hate group itself, but the existing bigotry and division the group can exploit. For these and other reasons it is also essential to conduct anti-bigotry education programs on an ongoing basis after the hate group has left your community.

8. Encourage peer-based responses among youth. Young people respond best to leadership that comes from within their peer group. While adults can provide valuable resources and insight. it is essential that youth groups develop and cultivate their own leaders and implement programs of their own design to combat bigotry.

9. Remember that hate groups are not a fringe phenomenon and their followers don’t always wear sheets. Although the number of active white supremacists and neo-nazis probably totals no more than 25,000 in the United States, as many as half-a-million Americans read their literature This movement is complex and made up of numerous sometimes competing and sometimes cooperating organizations. Hate groups impact the mainstream of society in a variety of ways including: running candidates for public office; publishing sophisticated propaganda; buying radio time and media outlets; distributing cable television programs; manipulating the media: and building alliance with more respectable conservative groups, including some fundamentalist and evangelical Christian organizations

10. Broaden your agenda. The problem is more than criminal. Hate activity is a political and social problem requiring a range of responses beyond those initiated by police. Citizen advocacy groups, religious agencies and other should develop a public policy agenda that addresses a wide range of issues including appropriate legislation, mandatory school curricula, expanded victim services, etc.

exerpted from A HANDBOOK OF COMMUNITY RESPONSES, Center for Democratic Renewal, PO Box 50469, Atlanta GA 303-0469, (404)221-0025