The Southern nationalist group League of the South, an organization whose founder advocates for white supremacy, has stepped up calls for Southern states to secede from the United States. The intensified campaign is reportedly in reaction to the removal of Confederate statues across the nation.
On July 9, LOS President Michael Hill took to the group's official Facebook page to call for a renewed effort for Southern secession.
Hill is former university professor who lives in Killen, Alabama. The LOS founder asserted in his post that his group members who pursue "nothing less than the complete reconquest and restoration of our patrimony -- the whole, entire South."
"And that means the South will once again be in name and in actuality White Man's Land," Hill continued. "A place where we and our progeny can enjoy Christian liberty and the fruits of our own labor, unhindered by parasitic 'out groups.'"
Hill's social media post followed a Ku Klux Klan rally in defense of a statue commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK members were protesting the Charlottesville City Council's decision to have the monument removed. Tensions between the KKK members and counter-protesters quickly escalated, prompting law enforcement officers to disperse the crowd with tear gas, according to Reuters.
LOS maintains that while it seeks to establish a white-only government in the South, its members would also seek "good will and cooperation to Southern blacks in areas where we can work together as Christians to make life better for all people in the South."
In June 2015, Hill asserted that African Americans were not equal to whites and that slavery was justified by the Bible in a comment post on the official LOS website, according to Raw Story.
"We reject completely the idea of equality... If blacks were 'equal' to whites, then we would see evidence of it in the great African civilizations that would rival those of Europe," Hill wrote to a commenter. The LOS founder asserted that Christianity viewed slavery "an institution approved by God for use in a fallen world."
LOS has previously paid for billboards advocating for secession across several states.
On Aug. 11, Hill stated that his group has no interest in restaging the Civil War or resurrecting slavery.
"We have no interest in going back and recreating an un-recreatable past," Hill told The Associated Press. "We are future oriented."
Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center asserted that LOS and other Southern nationalist groups were more interested in establishing racial dominance than state sovereignty.
"I think it's mostly subsumed into the white nationalist movement," Beirich said of the modern push for Southern secession. "There might be a little Southern softness to it. But I can't tell a whole lot of difference between the League and white nationalism."
While groups like LOS are advocating for a Southern break from the Union, groups within other states have been calling for secession as well.
The California Freedom Coalition has been circulating a petition to make California secession a ballot initiative in the 2018 midterm elections.
The ballot initiative would propose amending the California Constitution to remove a provision that binds California to the rest of the country.
"We feel that California has been neglected and left out of the political process for many many decades," Steve Gonzales of the California Freedom Coalition told The Sacramento Bee. "With current politics the way they are, clearly there's a recognition that many in the United States have disdain for Californians... So this is a time for us to take those tax dollars and really unleash the potential California has."