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Sun Aug 25, 2019, 02:37 PM

Arkansas, home to supremacist groups, weighs hate crimes law

Source: Associated Press

Arkansas, home to supremacist groups, weighs hate crimes law

By ANDREW DeMILLO
August 25, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Long before a mass shooting killed 22 people at a Walmart in Texas, the threat of white supremacy was well known in neighboring Arkansas, where extremist groups over the decades have made their home in the mountains and dense woods of the state’s remote rural areas.

In the 1980s, a group known as the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord grew to more than 100 members before federal authorities raided its compound in the Ozarks.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a “Christian identity” group that promotes racism have made their headquarters in the state. Just last February, prosecutors in Little Rock unsealed indictments against 54 members of the New Aryan Empire, a white supremacist group that began as a prison gang.

Nonetheless, Arkansas is one of only four states without a specific hate crimes law, declining over the years to follow the national legal trend for combatting ethnic violence as it dealt with other priorities it considered more pressing.

Now that reticence is giving way, one of the political tremors being felt across the nation after recent attacks. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who as a federal prosecutor wore a bulletproof vest to negotiate the end of the siege with the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord, has called on lawmakers to approve harsher penalties for crimes targeting people because of their race, ethnicity or religion.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/cec9849da0fc43898d753714023857a0

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