Eastside law-enforcement agencies are prepared to handle protests, marches if they occur

With white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups making national headlines, Western Washington isn’t immune to their particular brand of hate.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Hate Map, there are 16 such groups active either statewide or west of the Cascades. There are 21 groups total in the state.

Some of these groups, such as ACT for America, which is an anti-Muslim group, have staged recent rallies.

One such rally was put on in June by ACT, and saw a relatively small group of people gather to, in their words, protest Sharia law coming to America.

Critics of ACT, as well as hundreds of counter-protesters, said the rally was simply an excuse to vilify Muslims in Seattle.

Another organization classified as an anti-Muslim hate group is Faith Freedom, and is based in Bellevue.

Its website feature articles with titles like “The Closing of the Arab Mind,” and “Murdering the Quran with the Fire of Truth.”

Redmond itself has had problems with instances of hate.

Last November, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound had its sign vandalized, and in December, a new sign was again damaged.

A Hindu temple in Bothell was also spray painted with a swastika in 2015.

Radical and violent far-right groups also exist in the area, like the Northwest Hammerskins, a racist skinhead organization who, according to the SPLC, threatened to stage a march in December of 2015 through Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Hammerskins didn’t show up, but hundreds of black-clad antifascist protesters did to confront them.

While there are groups in the region, Redmond Police Department public information officer Andrea Wolf-Buck said there are no known extremist groups or individuals on their radar.

However, she said the department is “definitely on alert given the current climate and the vandalism incidents that have occurred in Redmond.”

These incidents were likely done by individuals instead of groups, Wolf-Buck said in an email.

If an extremist march were to be held in Redmond, Wolf-Buck said the department has a Demonstration Management Team and also has mutual agreements with other Eastside agencies to respond to large incidents.

The SPLC website also lists Crew 38, Blood and Honour, Wolves of Vinland, American Front and American Vanguard as being active in various cities in Western Washington.

A branch of the Klu Klux Klan was also reported in Vancouver.

Counter-Currents Publishing is also located in Seattle, and promotes white nationalism.

The Northwest Front is a white separatist organization that encompasses Idaho, Oregon and Washington and promotes the creation of a ‘homeland’ for white Americans.

The infamous neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was taken offline last month as companies sought to distance themselves from the violence and killing of a protester in Charlottesvile, Virginia, allegedly by a white supremacist.

However, GeekWire reports that a Seattle-based tech company, BitMitigate has agreed to host the Nazi’s website. This is now reflected on the SPLC’s Hate Map.

A few black separatist organizations were also listed, such as the anti-Semitic Sicarii 1715 and the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge groups.

Ayn Dietrich-Williams, public affairs officer for the Seattle branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the the FBI doesn’t track membership in ideological groups since membership in such groups is not illegal.

She did say the FBI has the authority to conduct investigations if it believes criminal activity is occurring or there are plans to do so.

“The FBI is vigilant to identify activity that may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security,” Dietrich-Williams said in an email. “We review all incidents flagged to us to determine if there is a possible violation of federal law.”

Before leaving office, the Obama administration awarded $400,000 to an organization dedicated to fighting homegrown right-wing extremism, The New York Times reported on Aug. 15.

However, President Trump cancelled that grant after entering office. Many other grants combating an array of extremism were also cancelled, and large sums of money were awarded to law enforcement organizations which focus exclusively on Islamic terrorism, the Times said.