The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of Montgomery, Alabama defines a hate group as:
“an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
According to its web page, the SPLC does not list individuals as hate groups, only organizations. Organizations on the SPCL hate group list:
“vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.”
The SPCL defines a “group” as an entity that “has a process through which followers identify themselves as being part of the group. This may involve donating, paying membership dues or participating in activities such as meetings and rallies. Individual chapters of a larger organization are each counted separately, because the number indicates reach and organizing activity.”
REASONS SPLC GIVES TO COMPILE LIST OF HATE GROUPS
The reason given by the Southern Poverty Law Center for identifying and tracking hate groups is as follows:
“Hate groups tear at the fabric of our society and instill fear in entire communities. American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but our history of white supremacy lingers in institutional racism, stereotyping and unequal treatment of people of color and others. Hate also plays a particular role in crime and thus the existence and location of hate groups is important to law enforcement. The U.S. Department of Justice warns that hate crimes, more than any other crime, can trigger community conflict, civil disturbances, and even riots. For all their “patriotic” rhetoric, hate groups and their imitators are really trying to divide us; their views are fundamentally anti-democratic and need to be exposed and countered.”
Race, religion and sexual orientation are the most common targets of hate groups. For that reason, the New Mexico statistics are worth review.
NEW MEXICO RACE, RELIGION, SEXUAL ORIENTATION BREAKDOWN
According to the United States Census, New Mexico’s approximate total population as of July 1, 2019 was 2,096,829. The Overall race or ethic breakdown is reported as follows:
Hispanic population: 49.1%
White or Anglo population: 37.1%
American Indian: 10.9%
African American: 2.6%
The Williams Institute, a leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy at the UCLA School of Law, released the following data on New Mexico’s Same-Sex Couples and Their Families in New Mexico:
Same-sex couples: 5,825
LGBT individuals (18yrs+): approximately 45,000
Percentage of same-sex couples with children: 18%
JEWISH AND MUSLIM POPULATION NUMBERS
On January 15, 2015, a survey by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico was released and found the Jewish population in New Mexico is approximately 24,000 residents with a range as high as 31,000 or as low as 21,000.
On August 18, 2018, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that according to the U.S. Religion Census, which reports the number of congregations by county in the U.S. for different faith groups, about 4,000 Muslims live in New Mexico, with about 450 in Santa Fe or about 0.3% percent of the city’s population.
RELIGIOUS FAITH POPULATION BY PERCENTAGES
According to a Pew Institute “Religious Landscape Study of New Mexico Adults”, the state’s population has the following religion breakdown:
Evangelical Protestant: 23%
Mainline Protestant: 14%
Historically Black Protestant: 1%
Orthodox Christian: Less than 1%
Jehovah’s Witness: 1%
Other Christian: Less than 1%
Jewish: Less than 1%
Muslim: Less than 1%
Hindu: Less than 1%
Other World Religions: Less than 1%
Nothing in particular: 13%
NO HATE GROUPS FOUND IN NEW MEXICO
In 2018, Southern Poverty Law Center identified and tracked 1,020 “hate groups” throughout the United states and produced a map to illustrate the locations of the hate groups. You can review a listing of hate groups in each state by reviewing the map at this link and typing in the name of a state and a list will then appear for that state:
New Mexico is the only state in the country that in 2018 the SPLC found had no organized hate group. But that does not mean the state has never had any in the past. Since 2000, the number of hate groups in New Mexico has varied from a high of 6 in 2013 to zero in 2004, 2005 and 2018. The hate groups found in New Mexico in the past have included the Christian Crusade for Truth, World Church of the Creator, National Socialist Movement, Civilian Combat Squad, New Mexico Skinheads, Frontline Aryans, 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, Supreme White Alliance and the Loyal White Knights of the KKK.
In New Mexico, the FBI documented 28 reported hate crimes in 2018, compared with seven reported incidents in 2017. Twenty-One of the hate crimes were based on race, ethnicity or national origin. Three were based on religion, three were based on sexual orientation and one on gender identity.
The finding of no hate groups in New Mexico in 2018 is in contrast to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report for 2018 which found the number of hate crimes in New Mexico spiking to 4 times what it had been in 2017.
The SPLC interim research director Keegan Hankes said the two reports are not contradictory by saying:
“It is not necessary to have an organized hate group in your community for hate crimes to occur. … These are independent of each other. The presence of a hate group obviously contributes and marks the potential for hate crimes, hate incidents and hateful activity in your community.”
Hankes said the SPLC has been tracking “a massive spike in hate crimes” since Donald Trump was elected president. Hankes noted:
“One of the drivers of hate crimes is toxic political rhetoric particularly in describing immigrants. The language used resonates with fringe hate groups and provide them with “the ultimate validation of their world view. They feel emboldened and empowered, and that their ideas have [purpose].”
In order to underscore just how pervasive hate crimes are, Hankes pointed to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, which annually collects data on crimes both reported and not reported to police. In the five years between 2013 and 2017, there were an average of 204,000 hate crimes each year.
STATES WITH THE FEWEST AND THE MOST HATE GROUPS
Excluding New Mexico, the states with the fewest hate groups in 2018 were Vermont and Wyoming, each with 1 group, Rhode Island and Delaware, each with 2, North Dakota and Iowa, each with 3 and Kansas and Alaska, each with 4.
The states with the largest number of hate groups were California with 83, Florida with 75, Texas with 73 and New York, with 47.
A DECADE OF HATE CRIMES
According to a recent Albuquerque Journal report, over the past decade, the most common types of hate incidents reported have been anti-Semitic, racial or ethnic graffiti in public parks and on public and private buildings. Accounts of hostile comments made toward people because of sexual orientation were reported as well as reports of university students using or being the target of racial slurs.
According to one Albuquerque Journal report:
“Increasingly, acts of violence have been directed at the homeless, some of whom were seriously injured or killed. While the homeless are not now a protected class of individuals, a number of organizations, including the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, have called for legislation to add them as a protected class under the state’s Hate Crimes Statute.”
ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE’S TAKE
The Anti-Defamation League focuses on tracking anti-Semitic hate crimes. Scott Levin, Mountain States Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League agreed there does not have to be a hate group for hate crimes to happen and had this to say:
“It doesn’t take a group to commit a hate crime, people can act on their own. … They just might not be organized and meeting together. It may be a whole bunch of lone individuals with extremist ideologies. … Most hate crimes in the United States today are racially based, but there are certainly pockets where religion is going to be a bigger factor. … [Larger cities have larger populations of Jewish people] so there is a much higher incidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes there than in other parts of the country.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center nearly 50% of race-based hate crimes were directed against African Americans. Hate crimes directed at LGBTQ individuals increased by almost 6%, including a significant 42% increase in crimes directed against transgender individuals. Anti-Hispanic hate crimes increased by 14%. Even though religion-based hate crimes decreased by 8% from 2017, nearly 60% of these hate crimes targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018.
The FBI reported 7,120 hate crimes in 2018, a slight decrease from the 7,175 reported in 2017. The FBI’s statistics are based on the numbers collected from law enforcement agencies around the country which likely means there is an under count of hate crimes. The vast majority of law enforcement agencies are not required to report hate crimes for their jurisdictions. In many states, hate crimes are classified as an enhancement to other crimes and “are not a charge in and of themselves.”
The hate crimes reported in New Mexico mirror the national trend in that the most common type was race or religion based.
GANGS AT THE CENTER OF DRUG AND GUN VIOLENCE
New Mexico posted the nation’s second-highest violent crime rate and its highest property crime rate in 2018 driven by high crime rates in Albuquerque. According to Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), in 2018 New Mexico had the second-highest violent crime rate and highest property crime rate in the nation. While the national crime rate in 2018 was around 369 violent crimes and 2,200 property crimes per 100,000 residents, New Mexico had 857 violent crimes and 3,420 property crimes per 100,000 residents. Front and center of the States drug and gun violence are gangs.
On May 24, 2019, it was reported by APD that gangs are driving much of the drug and gun violence crime and that city gangs are at the center of much of the city’s gun violence and drug trafficking. The report showed that APD can barely keep up with the problem and gave a summary of a number of gang and drug related murders, including teenager murders.
The story reported something law enforcement has known for decades: gangs are a serious problem in New Mexico. In July 1990 the New Mexico Judicial Council did a survey that queried 30 local law enforcement agencies across the State on the extent of gang activity in their jurisdictions. The 16 responding agencies identified 127 gangs statewide with an estimated membership of between 4,200 and 5,800. A total of 111 of these gangs are in Albuquerque and comprise the majority of the total gang membership.
Evidence indicates that 80% of the State’s street gangs are involved in narcotics trafficking. Twenty percent of reported crimes committed by gang members are narcotics violations, 36% are violent crimes, and 40% are property crimes. Of the 111 Albuquerque gangs, 61 are Hispanic, 31 black, and 19 white.
Fast forward to October 15, 2012. It was reported that the then Mayor responded to rising violent crime rates by tripling the size of its Gang Unit to a 15 member team split into a plain-clothes squad dedicated to undercover investigative work and a uniformed task force to patrol the entire city of Albuquerque. According to APD at the time, there were as many as 246 active gangs in Albuquerque at the time and a total of 7,700 documented gang members.
GANG VIOLENCE VICTIMS
The following recent reports of murders support the point that drugs and gangs are at the center of Albuquerque’s violent crime problem:
In December, 2018, 15-year-old Collin Romero and 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef went reported missing on the west mesa. Weeks later, Sandoval County authorities found the boys dead in a shallow grave. Investigators say two Albuquerque teens were tortured and killed over marijuana. The Office of Medical Investigators (OMI) autopsy reports revealed that 15-year-old Romero was shot nine times and he was beaten and stabbed in his joints. 14-year-old Lateef was shot 19 times. Police say 19-year-old Stephen Goldman is the suspect in the murders.
On April 10, 2019 APD detectives arrested Ryan Winter, 46, and his three children, who APD police say are gang members, Keith, 16, Kevin, 16, and Faith, 17, in connection with the vicious beating of a man and a woman on Feb. 9. Allegedly, the family tracked down the victims after a fight between Faith Winter and others, including the female victim. The Winters beat the woman with a gun and shoved a shotgun in the man’s face outside a gas station.
On April 16, 2019 APD detectives arrested Donald Crapse “a self-admitted motorcycle gang member” after allegedly witnessing him snort drugs outside a southwest Albuquerque home during a surveillance operation.
On May 7, 2019 police arrested Cesar Marquez and Adrian Marquez after APD received a call of a juvenile running around with a gun in a Walmart parking lot. According to a police spokesman “As officers entered the parking lot they heard multiple gunshots. ” Police found the 2 men in a blue Ford Mustang and identified Adrian Marquez as the suspect who fired off shots. Inside the car, detectives found a loaded gun and an ounce of cocaine.
On May 9, 2019 APD Detectives arrested Chris Salcido after a month’s long investigation alleging that he is gang member involved in several shootings and a “driver of crime and gun violence.” Salcido was caught at a southwest Albuquerque home after a standoff with police. Inside the home, they found three ounces of cocaine, two pistols and an assault rifle that had been reported stolen. Salcido has also been tied to several shootings and associated with 36 calls for service, including shots fired, suspected narcotics trafficking and aggravated battery.
On May 9, 2019 police arrested Dana La Monda and Juan Carlos Pacheco at a home in southwest Albuquerque after following up on reports of possible gang activity and suspected ties to several shootings. LaMonda was booked on a felony warrant for aggravated burglary of a firearm and Pacheco for separate charges.
On September 14, 2019 it was reported that 5 people were murdered and at least five injured in connection with three shootings in Albuquerque. APD Police said 3 of the 5 victims that were murdered were teens. Police identified them as Daniel Alexis Baca (17), Victoria Cereceres (16), and Noah Tafoya (18). The two other adults who died were identified as Christine Baca (36), and Manuelita Sotelo (77). The friends of 17 year old Daniel Alex Baca said friends said he died because of “the life he chose” and that was drug dealing and drugs.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
One of the biggest sources of pride and comfort to New Mexico is that it is clearly a state of inclusion, diversity and tolerance where ethnic and religious groups accept each other and get along.
Many in New Mexico would strongly dispute the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report finding that New Mexico has no hate groups to report. That does not mean they do not exist. Many such groups, especially white supremacy groups, keep extremely low profiles, especially in a State like New Mexico that is classified a Minority-Majority State, where people of color far exceed the Anglo population. Further, the lack of listing of hate groups as was noted does not mean hate crimes do not happen in the state.
The real problem in the State of New Mexico are not hate groups but criminal gangs, drugs and violence. According to a law enforcement “Gangs of Albuquerque Report”, there are 127 gangs statewide with an estimated membership of between 4,200 and 5,800 involved with drugs, property crime and violent crime. The nightly local news is a constant reminder of how bad Albuquerque’s violent crime rates are.
With such high levels of violent crimes, especially in Albuquerque, a cynic would say “we do not need any hate groups when we have so many gangs.” In other words, you can take some comfort that there are no hate groups that will target you for your race, color, religion or sexual orientation. You should be safe from being a victim of a crime so long as you have no property or vehicle someone wants to steal, you do not have a home to break into, you do not do drugs and you can feel safe so long as you do not anger someone who has a gun and who will kill you.
For news coverage on gang related murders see: