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Southern Poverty Law Center Archives | Judicial Watch

The domestic terrorist who carried out the politically-motivated shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) gets sentenced this week and it should not be forgotten that he got his target list from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that features conservative organizations on a catalogue of “hate groups.”

Floyd Lee Corkins, who has pleaded guilty in the shooting, has admitted that he got his target list, which included the FRC, from the SPLC, a leftwing civil rights group that labels conservatives who disagree with it on social issues hateful. The SPLC’s website features a map of the United States that helps locate what it labels as hate groups around the nation. When an area of the map is clicked, a list appears with the name and location of hate groups. There’s also a “select a state” box where you can simply write in the state and hate groups appear for that particular area.

The FRC, a Christian organization that promotes the traditional family unit and the Judeo- Christian value system, appears on that hate map under Washington D.C. In mid-August of last year Corkins stormed into the FRC’s Washington D.C. headquarters with the intention of killing as many employees as possible, according to a news report that cites legal documents. He had purchased a semiautomatic pistol from a Virginia store the day before the rampage.  

Corkins shot an unarmed security guard at the FRC, but the security guard was able to subdue him after a struggle that left the guard with a bullet in one arm. Earlier this year Corkins pleaded guilty to three serious crimes; committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition for the shooting. Corkins is the first defendant to be convicted under the D.C.’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, which prosecutes crimes committed to “intimidate or coerce a significant population of the District of Columbia or the United States.”

When federal investigators questioned him after the shooting Corkins explained that he attacked the FRC’s headquarters because the SPLC identified it as a hate group. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that,” he tells authorities in the chilling  interrogation video which is posted on the FRC’s website. “The SPLC’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences,” FRC President Tony Perkins said at the time. “Because of its ‘hate group’ labeling, a deadly terrorist had a guidemap to FRC and other organizations.”

In a statement to the court this week, the FRC says its staff lives in fear of a repeat attack and that “every day many on our team are reminded of the attack and relive the trauma.” The statement also reminds the sentencing judge that the gunman’s stated intention was to send a political message by killing as many of its staff as possible and that he was “clearly inspired” by the SPLC’s labeling of FRC has a hate group.

Following the shooting Judicial Watch launched an investigation into what influence the SPLC’s branding of hate groups has had on U.S. government agencies. In January JW obtained nearly 24 pages of emails from U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights and Tax divisions revealing questionable behavior by agency personnel while negotiating for SPLC’s co-founder Morris Dees to appear as the featured speaker at a July 31, 2012, “Diversity Training Event.”

Defense Document Suggests Colonists Fighting British Rule were members of “extremist movement” 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained educational materials from the Department of Defense (DOD) depicting conservative organizations as “hate groups” and advising students to be aware that “many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.” The documents repeatedly cite the leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a resource for identifying “hate groups.”

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Judicial Watch obtained the documents in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) filed on April 8, 2013. The FOIA requested “Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the preparation and presentation of training materials on hate groups or hate crimes distributed or used by the Air Force.” Included in the 133 pages of lesson plans and PowerPoint slides provided by the Air Force is a January 2013 Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute “student guide” entitled “Extremism.”  The document says that it is “for training purposes only” and “do not use on the job.” Highlights include:

  • The document defines extremists as “a person who advocates the use of force or violence; advocates supremacist causes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or national origin; or otherwise engages to illegally deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.”
  • A statement that “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publically espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
  • [W]hile not all extremist groups are hate groups, all hate groups are extremist groups.”
  • Under a section labeled “Extremist Ideologies” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements.  The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”
  • In this same section, the document lists the 9/11 attack under a category of “Historical events.”
  • [A]ctive participationwith regard to extremist organizations is incompatible with military service and, is therefore prohibited.” [Emphasis in original]
  • The document details the “seven stages of hate” and sixteen “extremists’ traits.”
  • The SPLC is listed as a resource for information on hate groups and referenced several times throughout the guide.
  • Of the five organizations besides the SPLC listed as resources, one is an SPLC project (Teaching Tolerance) and one considers any politically or socially conservative movement to be a potential hate group (Political Research Associates).
  • Other than a mention of 9/11 and the Sudan, there is no discussion of Islamic extremism.

In April 2013, following a terrorist shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters that occurred in August 2012, Judicial Watch filed multiple FOIA requests to determine what, if any, influence SPLC’s branding of hate groups had on government agencies. On its website, the SPLC has depicted FRC as a “hate group,” along with other such mainstream conservative organizations as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and Coral Ridge Ministries. At the time of the shooting, FRC president Tony Perkins accused the SPLC of sparking the shooting, saying the shooter “was given a license to shoot … by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Though the document released today by Judicial Watch was obtained from the Air Force, it originated in a DOD office and is, therefore. thought likely to be used in other agency components.

“The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism.  And now, in a document full of claptrap, its Defense Department suggests that the Founding Fathers, and many conservative Americans, would not be welcome in today’s military,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.  “And it is striking that some the language in this new document echoes the IRS targeting language of conservative and Tea Party investigations.  After reviewing this document, one can’t help but worry for the future and morale of our nation’s armed forces.”

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