March 10, 2011
Washington, D.C.—Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees held a press conference call today highlighting the prevalence of hate groups in Nevada and expressing concern at the reckless Republican spending plan (H.R. 1) to gut the FBI – the agency that monitors hate groups – by $133 million. House Republicans passed H.R. 1 on February 19. Yesterday, all Senate Republicans but three voted for H.R. 1.
“My recent trip to the birthplace of the civil rights movement brought home for me the importance of ensuring our law enforcement agencies have the tools and resources they need to combat hate groups,” said Reid. “We need to cut wasteful and excess spending like tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas. However, we should not be jeopardizing the safety and security of Nevadans by balancing the budget on the backs of the law enforcement agency tasked with monitoring groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 15 hate groups currently operating in Nevada – from Neo-Nazis to white supremacists. The FBI in Nevada is tasked to aggressively investigate and work to prevent things like hate crimes and human trafficking.
Last weekend, Nevada Senator Harry Reid joined civil rights leaders, Congressmen John Lewis (D-GA) and James Clyburn (D- MO), as well as other members of Congress in the 11th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage in Alabama.
The pilgrimage marked events that took place in March of 1965 when activists for equal civil rights marched from Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. Only blocks from the church, state troopers clashed with marchers and the day was since called “Bloody Sunday.” Participants of the pilgrimages traced the steps of those protestors from Brown Chapel across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday.
Also participating in the pilgrimage were noted civil rights leaders and Americans such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary), Dr. Bob Zellner, Bernard Lafayette, Bettie Mae Fikes, Carolyn McKinstry and Dorothy Cotton.
BACKGROUND ON SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.
Founded by civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC is internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups.
We are based in Montgomery, Ala., the birthplace of the modern civil rights movement, and have offices in Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, Fla., and Jackson, Miss.
BACKGROUND ON MORRIS DEES
Morris Dees co-founded the SPLC in 1971 following a successful business and law career. He started a direct mail sales company specializing in book publishing while still a student at the University of Alabama, where he also obtained a law degree.
Known for his innovative lawsuits that crippled some of America’s most notorious white supremacist hate groups, he has received more than 20 honorary degrees and numerous awards. Those include Trial Lawyer of the Year from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association.
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