The trial in Jasper may be over, but across the nation disturbing new statistics show a sharp jump in the number of hate groups. CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.
As one trial ended in Jasper Tex., another began in Virginia Beach, Va. Two men are accused of burning a cross in front of a house belonging to an interracial couple.
Just before the jury spoke in Jasper, a judge spoke in Gretna, La. He gave a white man 20 years for trying to set fire to three cars owned by black drivers. A child was strapped inside one of them.
These cases didn't make headlines, but they help to make a point: Hatred is growing. According to numbers released Tuesday, hate groups are multiplying, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.
"Well, the count just went up to 537," says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "That s up from 474 last year, so that is a fairly significant rise."
The Law Center pinpoints the number and locations of hate groups, and shows pockmarks of hatred from coast to coast. White separatists, black separatists, klansmen, and skinheads. It's a frightening rainbow of racism.
"You see all kids of interethnic hatred," Potok says. "Hispanics hating blacks; blacks hating Asians; blacks hating whites; whites hating all of the above."
It's hard to say if the rising number of hate groups has meant a rising number of hate crimes. There are no uniform laws requiring the reporting of hate crimes, so the exact number is hard to determine. But the groups are spreading quickly with the help of new leaders and new technology. The Internet makes it easier than ever to spread hate. Any search will yield numerous sites advocating hate.
"I hate the other races," says Matthew Hale, who operates a website titled World Church Of The Creator. "I certainly hate those who try to dispossess me and my people of what it has earned and has worked for in the country and around the world."
Many leaders of hate groups say they are against violence like what happened in Jasper, but Potok and others wonder how clearly people can draw the line between hateful words and hateful acts.
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff