BOSTON — It was a disturbing scene as a Black Lives Matter protest clashed with Back the Blue demonstrators in Mansfield on Sunday as members from the Nationalist Social Club New England region showed up.
“I saw them doing the hail Nazi salute,” said Bobbi Vee, who recorded the protests. “I saw them doing the OK sign that’s been adopted by white supremacists.”
While the group showed their faces here, their faces remain hidden through most of their social media posts. Speaking to us by phone, an anonymous member of the group told Boston 25 they showed up for protection.
“While we don’t stand with Trump or stand with the police we were there to ensure white safety,” the representative said. “It had nothing to do with politics.”
The pro-white group refused to say how many members are in the organization locally or nationally but told us they stand against the Black Lives Matter organization, as well as Antifa.
“I’ve been to events when they’ve been present so there’s no doubt that there is a presence of both extremist groups from both the right and left in Massachusetts,” said Robert Trestan, regional director of The Anti-Defamation League’s New England region.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are at least 15 hate groups in our area.
Political Research Associates has its own list of Boston-area groups that espouse organized bigotry:
- Proud Boys
- Super Happy Fun America
- Resist Marxism
- Nationalist Social Club
- American Guard
- Americans for Peace and Tolerance
- Renew MA Coalition
- Bostonians Against Sanctuary Cities
- Mass Family Institute
- Patriot Front
- Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement
- Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- ACT For America
- Mass Resistance
“The ideologies these groups espouse range from white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and other bigoted beliefs,” said Ben Lorber, a researcher at Political Research Associates.
Although there are extremist groups on both sides of the political aisle, right-wing extremists perpetrated the vast majority of attacks and plots in the U.S. over the last couple of years according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A 2019 ADL report found that “right-wing extremists were responsible for the vast majority of extremist-related murders in the United States in 2019...White supremacists were behind 81% of the domestic extremist-related murders in 2019. Right-wing extremists were responsible for 90% of such murders in 2019 and for 330 deaths over the course of the last decade, accounting for 76% of all domestic extremist-related murders in that time.”
“Over the last decade, right-wing extremists have been responsible for more than 75% of extremist-related murders in this country,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.
“There are a number of Americans who might declare their opposition to fascism but there is no singular organization named Antifa,” said Lorber. “There are no Antifa headquarters. There are no Antifa chapters. There are some people who might self organize under that name but the Proud Boys they have a formal organization.”
President Trump has garnered support from some of these groups but is now trying to distance himself. But groups who study this say it’s too little too late.
“They post pictures to their private social media sites putting up graffiti and stickers trying to recruit people,” said Lorber. “These groups are real threats. It’s a shame that in our current political climate they are emboldened.”
As for the Nationalist Social Club, they are not hard to find.
“We have seen them at a lot of Black Lives Matter event and they may show up at back the blue events to be provocative but even though they show up at a Back the Blue event we know they are very anti-police and not afraid to get into a confrontation with law enforcement,” said Trestan.
Back the Blue didn’t respond to requests on this story but they have told us in previous interviews, that they don’t regulate who comes to their rallies. They say they just show up to support police even in towns like Arlington where town managers asked them not to.
“If the protest leader stands up and says hey this is not what we are about we are not about violence, we are not about this, people listen,” said Vee. “So I strongly disagree with the Back the Blue people who say we cannot control who shows up to our event.”
“The FBI investigates activity which may constitute a federal crime or pose a threat to national security, and we cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s exercise of First Amendment rights, race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Our focus is not on speech or membership in particular groups, but on individuals who commit violence and other criminal acts. While the FBI does not police ideology, the investigation of hate crimes is one of our top priorities because they are not only an attack on the victim, they are meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community.”— Kristen Setera, FBI Boston Division Office of Public Affairs
Cox Media Group