Easthampton police investigating racist flyers found on lawns, driveways
|Published: 10-17-2023 7:00 PM
EASTHAMPTON — Early on Monday morning, a New England-based white supremacist and neo-Nazi group left flyers on residents’ lawns and driveways throughout the southern section of the city, according to the Easthampton Police Department.
“It’s beyond alarming, as well as sickening,” Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said. “And it’s a very real and open investigation in our Police Department, with regional, state and federal agencies all taking it very seriously.”
The flyers — which were inside plastic sandwich bags weighed down with small rocks — were distributed on behalf of the self-identifying “pro-white” organization called Nationalist Social Club-131, or NSC-131.
Police Sgt. Chad Alexander said home security camera footage shows that flyers were thrown from a vehicle or vehicles between 4:30 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. on Monday. Alexander said the Police Department received 12 calls from residents on Strong Street and Matthew Drive.
“We are investigating, one, the speech part of it, if there’s anything criminal about what’s written on there; and two, city or state law that you can’t litter and throw trash into people’s yards,” Alexander said.
“Even if it’s determined that everything is protected by the First Amendment, you still can’t litter,” he said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, NSC-131 members “consider themselves soldiers fighting a war against a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race.”
“Their goal is to form an underground network of white men who are willing to fight against their perceived enemies through localized direct actions,” reads the ADL website page about NSC-131.
A flyer located on a Campbell Drive driveway calls on men “of European descent” to raise “authentic resistance to the enemies of our people.” The flyer also includes a link to the organization’s Gab site, an alternative social media platform.
The platform “strives to be the home of free speech online,” per its website. According to a 2023 Pew Research Center study, the site has limited content moderation and has faced criticism for enabling antisemitic and racist content.
“Unfortunately, white supremacist groups have become a part of our society more than we would ever want, and they’re despicable,” LaChapelle said. “We need the help of our partners on the state and federal level to really put the big picture together.”
According to the Boston Globe, NSC-131 held a protest and chanted anti-immigrant slogans outside of Gov. Maura Healey’s home in Arlington on Saturday night.
In addition, Alexander said the same group’s flyers were also distributed in Westfield, and the organization has conducted similar activities around New England.
“Whether it happens in Easthampton or in front of the governor’s house, it’s not tolerated at all,” LaChapelle said.
For now, the flyers are under investigation by the Easthampton Police Department. Those with a description or video footage of the involved vehicle(s) are asked to reach out to the Easthampton Police Detective Bureau at 413-527-1212.
“Ultimately, there’s no sense to hate,” said LaChapelle. “Our responsibility as residents and elected officials is to eliminate hate from public government and our public sphere across the board.”Maddie Fabian can be reached at email@example.com.