President Trump freezes money to fight hate groups

Funding for hate groups

ST. PETERSBURG — We've been talking to you for a week about a new office President Trump opened.

It's supposed to track crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and help their victims.

But it could be doing something that hurts a lot of innocent people.

Nightside reporter Mark Rivera spoke to the southern poverty law center about the VOICE office and if it will help hate groups.

“There's no question that the VOICE office is trying to make it look like ‘immigrants equal bad,’” said Southern Poverty Law Center hate group expert Heidi Beirich. “The idea of highlighting immigrant crime is one that comes right out of the white nationalist playbook.”

I want to introduce you to someone.

Chuck Leek spent more than 20 years as part of the white supremacist movement.

“Part of the whole skinhead thing was physical violence. I spent some time in prison for assault with a deadly weapon,” Beirich said.

Now, Leek is part of this group. Life After Hate. It's a nationwide network of former white supremacists.

They are dedicated to educating young people against joining right wing terror groups and encouraging white supremacists to leave the movement.

“The white supremacist movement is far more active in the last six months than I have seen it in the last 10 or 12 years,” Leek said.

Life After Hate was one of more than 30 organizations President Obama tapped to get $0 million dollars of federal money to help combat violent extremists.

That’s to fight the kind of people who want all immigrants out - neo-nazis - people you would generally say you don't want to be around.

But here's the data I uncovered from the Anti-Defamation League tonight.

Out of 70 times from 2009 to 2016 when an extremist shot at police - about 60 of them were extreme right wing Americans. Only about 10 of them were Islamic extremists.

That means 84% of ideologically motivated attacks were by white supremacists and other homegrown extremists.

So, money to fight white supremacy can potentially do a lot of good. Take it from a guy who lived it.

“If one person gets their mind changed, it might be worth it. If that one person had been Dylan Roof or the Oklahoma City Bomber...,” Leek said.

I want to talk to you about hate and extremism. If you've ever been involved in a movement that was called a hate group and you got out? Let me know.

Head to our 10News WTSP Facebook page. Get in touch. Let's talk.

(CBS New contributed to this report)

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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