JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center says the overall number of hate groups dropped dramatically nationwide in 2013, but Action News found Florida still ranks high on the list.
The SPLC hate map identifies 58 hate groups throughout the state, down from 59 in 2012.
"Florida is a hotbed for hate groups. The state has historically ranked in the top two or three for the highest number," says SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok.
Potok says the groups are classified as hate groups because they oppose a specific groups of people based on specific characteristics.
According to the SPLC hate map, six hate groups are based in Jacksonville.
"Florida is unusual in that it really houses such distinct cultures, and cultures that are not always so friendly to each other," says Senior Fellow Mark Potok. "Northern Florida, which in many senses is really part of the Deep South, and south Florida which is very multicultural. This can cause tension among groups of people."
Potok says the report is no indication of the number of hate crimes, but says recently many moderate members have left the hate groups, and those that remain are more extreme in their beliefs.
"The more people speak out against them, the more they can become more extreme, and at times more violent."
Potok says the number of hate groups nationwide peaked in 2011, following the re-reflection of President Obama and downturn in the economy. Many of the groups that disbanded in the past year were opposed to government operations.