White supremacists were seen near a book reading involving drag queens in a Boston neighborhood over the weekend, leading to multiple arrests and the launch of a civil rights investigation, authorities said.
According to Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden, there was organized white supremacist action in Jamaica Plain on Saturday. Three men were arrested and charged with causing a disturbance near Center Street and Greenough Avenue in Jamaica Plain around noon, a Boston Police Department spokesperson told MassLive.
Officers were immediately dispatched to the scene of the white supremacist action to keep residents safe until the group dispersed, according to the office of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. The Civil Rights Unit of the police department is investigating the targeting of members of the LGBTQ+ community, as the location and time of the protest was close to the Drag Queen Story Time event at the Loring Greenough House in Jamaica Plain.
After the group’s leader, Chris Hood of Pepperell, was arrested, the remaining members of the group dispersed, the mayor’s office said. According to NPR and other sources, Hood is the founder of the Nationalist Socialist Club, or NSC-131, a fledgling neo-Nazi group in New England.
Wu’s office urged anyone with reports or information about the individuals who participated in the march to contact the police department.
“It’s no coincidence that these cowardly groups from outside our city continue to target Boston as we show how representative leadership, empowered communities and bold policies can have an immediate impact,” Wu said in a statement. “We are ready and will not be intimidated in our work to make Boston a city for everyone. We remain ready for the citywide deployment of additional public safety resources with a zero-tolerance approach to any group seeking to intimidate or harass our city residents.
Just two weeks ago, on July 4, about 100 masked members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front marched through downtown Boston. Members of the group also allegedly attacked Charles Murrell III, a local black artist, during their march.
“It is clear that Boston is a turning point in the hate crusade launched five years ago in Charlottesville,” Hayden said in a statement. “The presence of white supremacists at a Jamaica Plain book reading today, like their march from downtown Boston earlier this month, is both a disgrace and a warning. Society everywhere is targeted by these groups, and society everywhere must reject them.
Black Boston Inc., a community organization that works to support young black Bostonians, posted a video on Twitter on Saturday morning of several masked men walking down a sidewalk in Jamaica Plain, chanting “Pedo scum. Off our streets.
Authorities have yet to confirm whether the group that marched on Saturday is the same group that marched on July 4, although Black Boston claimed in their tweet that they were the same. However, Hood, the alleged leader of Saturday’s protest, is believed to be the leader of the Nationalist Socialist Club, while the group that marched on July 4 has been identified as the Patriot Front.
“The same white supremacist group that demonstrated on the 4th of July is currently at 12 South Street, Jamaica Plain, 02130 protesting LGBTQ lives. That’s what we mean when we say Boston isn’t as ‘liberal’ as they say it is,” Black Boston wrote in his tweet.
Boston City Councilwoman Kendra Lara — who represents Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Roslindale and parts of Roxbury — told MassLive her office is aware of the white supremacist protest in Jamaica Plain and is working with the Boston Police Department. Boston, community organizations and other elected officials who represent the neighborhood to support voters.
“These people are not welcome in Boston, and they are especially not welcome in my district and my neighborhood,” Lara said of the white supremacist group.