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US Authorities Take Closer Look at Hate Groups Following Shooting


The shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on June 10 in Washington has focused new attention on what is being done to monitor and counter various hate groups in the United States. Police say a security guard at the museum was killed when an elderly white supremacist, James von Brunn, walked into the museum and opened fire. Von Brunn was shot by security guards and remains in critical condition.

A brazen hate crime at a museum that teaches what hate can do.

James von Brunn, 88, entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington. DC. Police say he fatally shot the black security guard who held the front door open so the elderly man could enter. Von Brunn was then shot and injured by other guards.

"I heard the gunshot. Everyone rushed out, go, go, go, run, run, run, immediately I booked it and ran," said museum visitor Brittany Thompson.

Multiple events, all in the past month, have police worried about a resurgence of hate in America.

Four Muslims tried to bomb two synagogues in northern New York City.

A female university student was murdered. Police say the suspect was targeting Jews.

A doctor who performed abortions was shot dead in church, allegedly by a pro-lifer.

And now, police describe von Brunn as a "hard-core" white supremacist with a long history of anti-Semitic activities.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) thinks current events are unleashing the temper of extremists, like the first African-American in the White House, the economic downturn and the immigration debate.

"Something culturally is going on, they can't accept it," said Deborah Lauter, who is with the ADL. "And they are looking to act out on it."

Others point to President Obama's speech in Cairo where he condemned those who deny the Holocaust.

Then, a day later in Germany, he repeated the point at the former Buchenwald concentration camp.

Police say the Holocaust Museum shooter, James von Brunn, was a vocal extremist.

"Did all these years of public display of hatred impact his actions?" said Joseph Persichini of the FBI. He says most extremists know how much scope U.S. law permits for freedom of speech. "No matter how offensive to some, we are keenly aware that expressing views is not a crime and the protections afforded under the Constitution cannot be compromised."

But, the modern difference is that views are on display worldwide on the Internet, like on von Brunn's website.

Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman has been following von Brunn for years.

"Today you can move hatred across the globe in nano seconds and it makes them feel that they are part of something that is more than they are," he said. "It empowers them in ways that bigots have never been empowered before."

John Jay College in New York City teaches future police officers how to recognize extremists before they become domestic terrorists.

Professor Maki Haberfeld teaches criminal justice.

"We continue to look for foreign terrorists, and we completely ignore the fact we have them here," said Professor Maki Haberfeld, who teaches criminal justice. "And they are equally in my mind as dangerous as the foreign ones or the home-grown Islamic."

Foxman, a Polish Jew who was saved from the Holocaust by his Catholic nanny, says education is the answer.

"The good news is that bigots aren't born. They are created, they are taught," he said.

Experts say it's the un-learning that takes time. Possibly too much time to avoid something like this.

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