How to combat hate groups in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Like many states, South Dakota has battled with groups of hate and continues to do so.

Since 2010, the state has looked at anti-Islam, anti-immigrant or anti-LGBTQ type of legislation, according to Lori Miller, research director for South Dakota Voices for Peace.

But there is more history in the state that needs to be uncovered.

In June 2019, Vickie Powers Memorial Park was littered with racist graffiti.

That same year, Southern Poverty Law Center reported there were four tracked hate groups in South Dakota.

Lori Miller said numbers are going down because more people are confronting hate.

She said hate groups are not as publicly vocal nowadays and try to use social media instead.

"That's not to say they are not happening. I do think that they may be happening but they are not able to advertise to as broad of an audience and that lessens their ability to spread their agendas," she said.

In 2017, there were 28 hate group protest events, mainly anti-Islamic, that Miller tracked.

By 2018, she said it was cut in half and then by 2019, there was only two events she found.

"You would think in this day and age, as a lot of us would say, I thought we were done with this," Miller said. "The generation before me, they're saying 'we did all of this in the 60's why are we doing this again?' We never quit doing it, we didn't."

Miller said calling out people for their micro-aggressions that stem from hate is just a start.

Additionally, she encourages people to educate themselves beyond school textbook history and pay attention to legislation.

"Our country has never accepted the atrocities that were committed in those groups and so it is always under the surface," she said.