DA expands office due to white supremacist actions in Boston

July 25, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A district attorney in Massachusetts announced Monday he’s adding two positions to prosecute civil rights cases because he’s concerned about organized white supremacist actions in Boston this year and anticipates more unrest during upcoming elections.

The district attorney for Suffolk County, which includes Boston, announced the addition of civil rights prosecutors for district and superior court two days after three men were arrested at a rally in Boston.

District Attorney Kevin Hayden said it was a gathering of the group known as NSC-131, or the Nationalist Social Club. The group protested in the diverse Jamaica Plain neighborhood, outside a historic home that had just hosted a children’s drag queen story hour.

“It’s clear to me that Massachusetts and Boston have become target destinations for groups that spread hate,” he said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League says NSC-131 is a New England-based neo-Nazi group.

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One of the people arrested was the purported leader of the group. He pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of affray for allegedly fighting with a counterprotester and was released on personal recognizance. His lawyer said that while not everyone agrees with his positions, his rights must be respected.

Prosecutors dropped charges against two counterprotesters who were also arrested.

In a separate action, U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins condemned the actions of NSC-131, called them cowards, and said she would establish a tip line for residents to report white supremacist activity. Meanwhile, they should report such activity to police, she said.

“In Boston, Massachusetts, we have a long history of standing up to hate and injustice,” she said in a statement Sunday. “We don’t hide behind masks. When we see inequity and harm, we look the culprit in their eyes and demand that it stops.”

Hayden said he’s adding staff and renaming the office’s civil rights team because there have been four organized white supremacist actions in Boston this year, a neo-Nazi group protest at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston last year, and recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have roiled the nation, with the possibility of more to come.

The possibility of “societal strife” during the U.S. House and Senate races this fall and the 2024 presidential election, as well as statistics showing increases in hate crimes across the nation, were also factors, he added.

The High-Risk Victims Unit, which handles civil rights cases, hate crimes, and crimes against elders and people with disabilities, will now be called the Civil Rights/High-Risk Victims Unit. Hayden said adding two new prosecutors will help better coordinate and prosecute felony and misdemeanor civil rights and hate crime cases.

The four incidents in Boston that Hayden cited were a neo-Nazi protest at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in February, an NSC-131 gathering at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston in March, a Patriot Front march on July 2, and the NSC-131 protest in Jamaica Plain on Saturday.