Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak to the Salisbury Forum on the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. It was the worst act of terrorism carried out by hate group fanatics in The United States until the Twin Towers attacks in 2001. The group monitors hate and extremist groups and warns that the problem is growing worse at an alarming rate. They count more than a thousand such groups from Klansmen, White Nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black nationalists to border vigilantes and others. The SPLC says the number of hate groups has grown by 69 per cent since the year 2000.
The SPLC says,”This growth in extremism has been aided by mainstream media figures and politicians who have used their platforms to legitimize false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities and spread the kind of paranoid conspiracy theories on which militia groups thrive.”
The group pioneered the strategy of using the courts to battle organized, violent hate groups. Since then, it has won numerous large damage awards on behalf of victims of hate group violence. These cases are funded entirely by its supporters; it accepts no legal fees from the clients it represents.
Richard Cohen is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Virginia Law School. He started at the SPLC in 1986 as its legal director after practicing law in Washington D.C. for seven years. Under his guidance, the SPLC has won a series of landmark lawsuits against some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist organizations. He became president of the SPLC in 2003.