EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - After six people were killed in the Sikh temple in Oak Creek by alleged gunman and known white supremacist, Wade Michael Page, his connections to hate groups are being investigated.
Page was a known member of the Hammerskin Nation, which the Anti-Defamation League said is a violent and organized white supremacy group. Many of such groups are still organized throughout the country and even in Wisconsin.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, that monitors hate groups throughout the country, Wisconsin is home to eight groups, including Neo Nazis, Racist Skinheads, and one in Eau Claire, the Crusaders for Yahweh, known as a Christian Identity group.
“(The Crusaders for Yahweh) think white people were the chosen people, they don't think Jews were ever the chosen people. And they believe that Jesus's message is not accurate. They've rewritten the bible in ways that would be very offensive to mainstream Christians,” Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, studies the groups and teaches African American history at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, said.
She said hate group members are considered a threat and often fit a common profile.
“(Hate group members are) very insecure, they're looking for an "other" to blame for what they think is happening to them.”
“What we have to have happen is for whites learn to individualize as we become a more diverse society and it's only from that will we get safety,” she said.
Hate groups have a long history in Wisconsin, including the short lived Chippewa Valley Clan of the 1920s.
“There were clans all over the Chippewa Valley,” Chippewa Valley Museum Editor Frank Smoot said. “They were sent away before they could do any violence like they did in the south, but there were crosses burned in Eau Claire.”
But the historians were thankful much has changed.
“Racial peace isn't just about making it good for minorities it's about making it good for everyone,” Ducksworth-Lawton said. “Eau Claire is making great strides.”
“The reason we're a good community today is that we can get along and I think that's as true here or more true here than any other place in the country,” Smoot said.
Frank Smoot said the clan targeted Jews and Catholics in the Chippewa Valley, but a Catholic sheriff helped to end their efforts.
WEAU left a message for the Crusaders for Yaweh, but did not get a response.