Local leader disputes “hate group” label - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Local leader disputes “hate group” label

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Thuersam, chair of NC League of the South, keeps track of reports about the SPLC's founder. Thuersam, chair of NC League of the South, keeps track of reports about the SPLC's founder.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The Southern Poverty Law Center highlights two local organizations when naming this year's active hate groups in the United States.

The League of the South made the list and the chairman of the North Carolina chapter, which is based in Wilmington, said the label is outrageous but nothing new.

Bernhard Thuersam said the League of the South has dealt with this hate label for more than a decade. He considers it an attempt to rally support and donations for the SPLC.

"They hate anyone who has conservative views or traditional views," said Thuersam.

He explained that members believe in restoring traditional values and culture, but the author of the hate group report described League of the South differently.

Mark Potok said the League's national leader, Michael Hill, preaches a message of creating a new nation with a white majority and a feudal system of inequality.

To that, Thuersam pointed to his personal life for proof of a hate free agenda – he said he's been married for more than 25 years to a Korean woman.

"If it's a hate group, then tell me," he said. "I want to have a good reason to leave it."

The state chairman cited a spotless criminal record in the city of Wilmington, but Potok explained that group's like the League of the South pose a higher threat of causing trouble.

"An active group could mean they're holding rallies, or they simply collect dues," Potok said. "It has to go beyond simply publishing on an Internet page somewhere."

There are more than 1,000 active hate groups in the United States, according to Potok's report. He attributes the large number to backlash from Mister Obama being elected President and a struggling economy.

Thuersam said the League of the South strongly believes in upholding the constitution, but it harbors no hard feelings for any particular group.

"We don't hate anybody," said Thuersam. "If we don, it's because they're against the constitution."

The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ is the other hate group named by the SLPC. It lists Wilmington as a location for the group, but WECT.com has yet to contact anyone with the organization.

The group, classified as a black separatist movement by the SLPC, is insular and difficult to infiltrate, according to Potok.

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