Anti-Semitic and racist banners were hung on highways in Saugus and Danvers on Saturday by masked men affiliated with a local neo-Nazi group.
The banners, displayed from the Walnut Street Bridge on Route 1 in Saugus and on a railroad bridge over Andover Street in Danvers, read “JEWS DID 9/11” and “DEFEND WHITE COMMUNITIES”, according to the Boston Globe. Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The National Socialist Club 131, or NSC-131 claimed responsibility for actions on social media, the World reported.
The group is identified as a neo-Nazi organization by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Members of NSC-131 see themselves as soldiers in a war against a nefarious Jewish-controlled system bent on destroying white people, according to the ADL.
Saugus police received multiple complaints about the messages around 6 p.m. Saturday, the department said in a statement. While the people were not breaking any laws, the department condemned their posts.
“Saugus police have determined that the men are not breaking the law despite the hateful subject matter of their post,” the statement read. “While the First Amendment protects the legal right to speak, the Saugus Police Department condemns hate messages posted in our community and we condemn anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms.”
Saugus police informed the ADL of the incident. In response, ADL Executive Director Robert O. Trestan said members of NSC-131 were “loosely masked extremists” who were using the 9/11 anniversary to spread hatred.
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“Scapegoating the Jewish community is an age-old but extremely harmful anti-Semitic trope that must be exposed and condemned whenever and wherever it occurs. Using this tragedy to spread false, destructive and divisive narratives harms our communities and our sense of security and dishonors the memory of the victims of that day,” Trestan said in a statement. statement.
Hate propaganda like the messages broadcast by NSC-131 is said to be more prominent in Massachusetts than in many parts of the country. The state had the fourth highest level of hate propaganda activity in America last year, according to a report released this spring by the ADL. The group found the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country in 2021 since the ADL began tracking them in 1979.
NSC-131 has been particularly active in the Boston area this year. In July, NSC-131 leader Chris Hood was arrested for allegedly fighting a counter-protester nearly an hour long drag queen story in Jamaica Plain. The group gathered outside a community center to protest the event.
The neo-Nazi group also made headlines in March, when it unfurled a banner at Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade that read “Keep Boston Irish.”
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