Last week, PRA associate fellow Spencer Sunshine joined a discussion on anti-racist resistance in Kentucky alongside Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and Rural Organizing Project (ROP). KFTC convened this webinar after learning that White supremacist groups would be traveling to Kentucky in April for a series of events in Prestonsburg and Pikeville.
Sunshine kicked off the session identifying the White supremacist groups that are organizing and recruiting and describing what tactics they use. The groups discussed include the Nationalist Front (an umbrella group), Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement (the largest neonazi group in the U.S.), League of the South (a neoconfederate group), and American Vanguard (a university-based student group). Sunshine describes how these groups, along with the White nationalist Alt Right, are mainstreaming old ideas through a new aesthetic.
Sunshine pointed out that there has been a huge spike in the number of White supremacist groups in the past year, according to the latest reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“In general this is happening to communities all over. I think with Trump’s campaign White nationalists felt like their politics had finally come out into the mainstream and they could come out of the shadows. And I think that’s true to some extent. That their politics are at least to some parts of society being fairly normalized. Regardless, they are using this climate to engage in much more aggressive recruiting campaigns and have open public events.”
Sunshine was also joined by Jessica Campbell co-director of ROP, a network of over 50 autonomous all-volunteer group throughout rural Oregon who are doing organizing around democracy and human dignity. Campbell pointed out that in Oregon they are not seeing legislators and politicians coming out to rural areas, which makes those communities feel further disenfranchised and “is creating a real opportunity for Far Right organizing to really take advantage of having an uncontested rural base.”