A local Alamance County organization has been listed as a neo-confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The group ACTBAC, which stands for Alamance County taking back Alamance County, was founded on the principles of preserving the southern heritage and having southern pride. According to the group's website, the group is "wanting to preserve our Southern rights and grow to show our support for not only our country but our state as a whole when faced with issues against our Confederate history."
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) tracks and lists different extremist groups and hate groups in the U.S. They publish these organization on their 'Hate Map' annually. ACTBAC was added to the list this year.
SPLC defines a hate group as a group that "have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
There are 917 hate organizations in the U.S. currently, with 31 of them residing within North Carolina borders, according to the SPLC.
Elon University professor of computer science, Megan Squire, helped the SPLC collect information on ACTBAC in order for them to classify them as a hate group. She collected data from ACTBAC's public facebook page and from newspaper articles.
In her findings, Squire lists Facebook posts from the last two years of anti-Islamic memes, posts with anti-gay messages, and protest posts about Muslim refugees.
Elon News Network reached out to ACTBAC for statement about being listed on the SPLC's hate map. The founder of ACTBAC, Gary Williamson, emailed a response saying, "I hope that you will understand that we express not hate. The battle flag that you seen raised yesterday is a symbol of pride, honor, and respect to our families, our history, and the cause we still love and cherish today. No hate or racist views. Just standing by what we love."
When ENN asked Williamson about the facebook posts listed above he stated that some of those posts were from two years ago and that the organization "have made strides since then and as long as people are willing to listen and work together, then so are we. Screaming and yelling at people from a distance and not listening to what they have to say is worthless."
Williamson's full statements can be found here and here .