Trump supporters yell at passing protesters (unseen), who are against Trump's policies, during a rally by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally aboard the USS Yorktown Memorial in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, December 7, 2015. Credit: RANDALL HILL | REUTERS

Donald Trump’s rhetoric isn’t just divisive — it’s also stirring up white supremacist groups, according to a new report.

The Ku Klux Klan is using people’s enthusiasm for the Republican presidential candidate to feel out new recruits, according to a Politico piece published today. And Stormfront, a white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers due to spikes of traffic when Trump makes comments about immigration or Muslims.

Politico laid out what it described as the “Trump bump.” 

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” Stormfront founder Don Black told the news site. He predicted that the businessman’s effect on white nationalist forces would be long-lasting. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Experts at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have warned that Trump is creating an atmosphere that could lead to more violence against minorities. (He’s called undocumented Mexicans immigrants “rapists,” for example, and proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., including those on tourist visas.) Trump does not endorse white supremacist groups, and his campaign has fired staffers for racist posts on social media, but his speeches appear to have roused people with racial resentments.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told Politico. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

There are active hate groups all across the United States, including in Maine. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists two in this state as of 2014: Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.

The organization tracks hate groups known to be active based on their publications, websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.

You can see the full map by clicking on the picture:

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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...