Saturday, January 17, 2009
So far, there is no known organized effort to express opposition to Obama's rise to the presidency other than a call by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for its members to wear black armbands as well as fly the U.S. flag upside down on Inauguration Day and Obama's first full day in office.
As Tuesday approaches, when Obama stands outside the Capitol to take the oath of office, experts expect anger about the new president to spike. But they don't expect it to go away.
"The level of vitriol, I expect, will go up a bit more around inauguration time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.
There "is concern" about white supremacist groups during the inauguration, said Joe Persichini, the assistant FBI director who is helping to oversee security during the inauguration. What might the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have said? »
The inauguration of the nation's first minority president increases any potential threat, "particularly stemming from individuals on the extremist fringe of the white supremacist movement," said a recent intelligence assessment by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
But law enforcement has the appropriate resources to respond if needed, Persichini said.
"We have seen a lot of chatter," Persichini said. "We have seen a lot of discussions. We have seen some information via the Internet. But those are discussions. We look at the vulnerabilities and whether or not the groups are taking action.
"You have freedom of speech," he added. "Anyone in this nation can have a discussion about their beliefs, but we are concerned about whether or not they take that freedom of speech and exercise some act that is against the law."
Anger, violence and interest in racist ideology did increase in the hours and days after Obama was elected president in November, hate groups experts said.
Three New York men were indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with voting rights -- accused of targeting and attacking African-Americans in a brutal crime spree soon after Obama was declared the winner on November 4.
And interest in racist ideology was so high right after the election that computer servers for two White supremacist Web sites crashed, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. Sambungan ...