Jonathan A. LLoyd

Doctoral Candidate in Sociology

Blog Post

The Hate Manager: Why Hate Groups Affect Hate Crime

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Fear and Control

Hate groups and hate crime have a close relationship. That relationship’s foundations? Fear. Fear of a threat from a marginalized group.  For Daily Stormer readers, the threat came from Jewish women. For a right-wing rally in Charlottesville, the threat came from anti-racist protestors. The solution to these threats? In a word, control. Enter the Hate Manager.

The Hate Manager

Hate groups which maintain a web presence influence both who will likely commit a hate crime and where such offenses will take place. Considering their social influence, I refer to these groups as “Hate Managers”. Hate Managers achieve their influence by both stoking existing fears and forging social bonds to exert an authoritarian and disciplinary social control. Victims of such control refer to their experiences as hate crime. Such crime might range from a fight on the street to a campaign of harassment (see link below).

Jewish woman testifies about neo-Nazi troll storm

Montana mother Tanya Gersh said a part of her was broken after testifying in court against neo-Nazi publisher Andrew Anglin and those who subjected her to a torrent of hate. But she vowed to fight on.

Hate Groups and Hate Crimes

To explain, I base these arguments off my recent thesis, where I find that hate crimes are ten times more likely to occur in a county when a hate group hold a base of operations there. What’s more, the presence of a hate group seems a stronger predictor than even a county’s economic inequality, though racial inequality still holds some major predictive power. Likewise, I find that when Hate Managers discuss locations publicly, hate crimes are twice as likely to occur there than those without discussion. These findings provide solid ground for discussing the relationship between hate groups and hate crime.

James Alex Fields Jr. (left) rammed his car into anti-racist protestors at the Unite the Right rally, killing 32 year old Heather Heyer (right).
Photo courtesy of WJLA

Social Control

Of course, the idea of crime as social control, or self-help, is not new. The idea of crime as self-help meshes with Barbara Perry’s understanding of hate crime as “a mechanism of power intended to sustain [social] hierarchies through violence and threats of violence”.   Though hate group presence overshadows typical self-help factors such as economic inequality and social immobility, I am not arguing that hate crime doesn’t qualify as self-help, merely that hate crime is a different type of self-help. My research illustrates why hate groups hold influential power and what that influence results in, but work remains on answering how this occurs, or on highlighting the specific processes that lead from hate group to hate crime. In other words, though we know that the Hate Managers’ presence and words affect the odds of a hate crime happening, we still don’t know their exact role.

And so, I conclude this post by calling for researchers, activists, victims, and even perpetrators to come forward and share with one another, so we can focus in on the missing pieces: the experiences of the victims, their would-be guardians, and those that actually perpetrate hate crimes. Only by addressing hate crime in its entirety can we truly understand it. Only by understanding it can we hope to confront it. And only by confronting it can we hope to defeat it.

Regarding My Findings

My findings were based off an examination of FBI Hate Crime data, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map, U.S. Census data, and my own investigation into hate group websites. For simplicity’s sake, I chose to limit my results to Virginia, despite the fact that California carried the highest number of hate groups. Virginia at the time held the highest number of White Nationalist or WN groups (see chart above). WN groups prioritize local networks and cultural aspects and a propensity for violence (see Hamm 1993; Futrell and Simi 2004). Likewise, Virginia lacks California’s size and population density, which make the former a better unit of analysis.

Further Reading

Adamczyk, Amy, Jeff Gruenewald, Steven M. Chermak, and Joshua D. Freilich. 2014. “The Relationship Between Hate Groups and Far-Right Ideological Violence.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 30(3): 310-322.

Black, Donald. 1993. “Crime as Social Control.” Pp. 27-46 in The Social Structure of Right and Wrong, edited by D. Black. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc.

Futrell, Robert and Pete Simi. 2004. “Free Spaces, Collective Identity, and the Persistence of U.S. White Power Activism.” Social Problems 51(1): 16-42.

Hamm, Mark S. 1993. American Skinheads: The Criminology and Control of Hate Crime. Westport, CT: Praeger.

LLoyd, Jonathan Andrew. 2019. “Hate Managers and Where They Target: An Analysis of Hate Crime as Hate Group Self-Help.” MS Thesis, Department of Sociology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Perry, Barbara. 2001. In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crimes. New York: Routledge.

Van Dyke, Nella and Griff Tester. 2014. “Dangerous Climates: Factors Associated With Variation in Racist Hate Crimes on College Campuses.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 30(3): 290-309.


Edited 1/2/2020: Corrected Reading List and Featured Image. Earlier version omitted list and presented incorrect feature image. Current image is courtesy of Markus Spiske from Pexels.

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