Arizona a magnet for hate groups says Anti-Defamation League

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- One renowned psychologist says the shooting in Wisconsin on Sunday didn't come as a surprise to him.

Steven Pitt, who's been involved in cases such as JonBenet Ramsey and the Columbine High School massacre, says the recent mass shooting in Colorado likely acted as a spark for Wade Page, who is accused of killing six Sikhs in Wisconsin on Sunday.

"When you get an event like an Aurora or a Columbine and you get that saturation media coverage, generally speaking within about seven to 10 to 14 days you will see another type of offense," Pitt said.

Page was affiliated with the "Hammerskins" a hardcore racist skinhead group, one that used to be active here in the Valley.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks organized hate groups, says there are 17 in Arizona, according the group's website.

But the Anti-Defamation League says in reality there are dozens, and the state is becoming a magnet for such groups. Where Jews and African-Americans were once the majority of people-groups who were targeted, now gays and Hispanics are also under fire.

"We've attracted more than our share of groups and individuals, not that we didn't have them to begin with. But people have come to Arizona to ride the anti-immigrant bandwagon," said Bill Straus, the regional director of the ADL.

Straus says that bandwagon is moving from the extreme and underground to the mainstream.

"J.T. Ready, of really of all of our local extremists made more of an impact in that area than any body else," Straus said.

A member of the National Socialist Movement, Ready, was well-known and politically active  before he gunned down four people and then turned the gun on himself in May.

Unless there's a credible threat and the resources to back it up, there's not much officials can do to prevent these crimes.

"You're free to be a bigot in America, you're free to hate any group or individual you choose," Straus said. "What you are not free to do is translate that bigotry into criminal activity."

Hate groups in Arizona
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

Crusaders for Yahweh
Faithful Word Baptist Church
Free American
Nationalist Coalition
Sons of Aesir Motorcycle Club
South Africa Project
United Families International
United for a Sovereign America (USA)
US Border Guard & Border Rangers
Vinlanders Arizona