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Three Elbit Systems Vandalism Defendants Appear in Nashua Court

Two of the three protesters indicted in the anti-Israel vandalism at Elbit Systems in Merrimack last November signaled Thursday they won’t be cooperating with prosecutors. 

Left-wing activists Sophie Ross, Bridget Shergalis, and Calla Walsh were in Hillsborough Superior Court — South for arraignment on felony charges of riot, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, burglary, and conspiracy to commit falsifying physical evidence for their roles in the November protest.

United at their arrests, the three women took different paths in court. Walsh, 19, did not speak, did not approach the defense table, and attorney Jeffrey Odland with the Manchester law firm of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters waived the reading of her charges in open court. 

Walsh was surrounded in court by family members and friends, while Ross, 22, and Shergalis, 27, were mostly on their own.

Ross and Shergalis are being represented by activist attorney Kira Kelley with Minneapolis-based Climate Defense Project, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to “resistance efforts.”

“Kira (they/she) grew up in rural Vermont as a guest on unceded Abenaki lands, with a lot of strong opinions but minimal political analysis about social injustice,” according to the organization’s website.

 

Bridget Shergalis (right) and Sophie Ross with their attorney Kira Kelley (standing) in Hillsborough Superior court, February 29, 2024.

 

Kelley pushed back Thursday on an attempt by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office to prevent her from representing both clients in the same case. Prosecutors argued dual representation for the same crime creates a potential conflict of interest for the defense. 

But Kelley told Judge Tina Nadeau that prosecutors are more concerned with getting an edge on the defendants than protecting their constitutional rights to a vigorous defense. Dividing the two defendants would make it easier for the state to play them against each other, she argued.

“The main concern here, the state’s objective, is getting the co-defendants to testify against each other. My clients recognize it is in both of their best interests not to cooperate,” Kelley said.

But Judge Nadeau shared the state’s concern, especially given Ross and Shergalis are being advised to stay united by the same attorney. Not only does Kelley run the risk of being disciplined for violating ethical rules for her potential conflict of interest, but her dual representation could provide Ross and Shegalis an easy appeal on the grounds they had “ineffective assistance of counsel,” Nadeau said.

“I find it odd and curious that a lawyer would take the position you’re taking in this case. I want to be frank with you; I’m concerned,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau will appoint two attorneys for both Ross and Shergalis to impartially advise them about the case and determine if they wish to proceed with Kelley as their sole attorney.

Kelley is also representing two Dartmouth students charged with criminal trespass last October after they pitched a tent on campus and refused to leave. They were protesting Israel’s actions in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

All three defendants in the Elbit case are due back in court next month for a dispositional conference. The state has presented the three with plea agreements that could keep the cases from going to trial. Nadeau advised the women to seek an alternative to trial.

The case of a fourth suspect, Paige Blender, 32, is expected to end up in the Nashua court in the coming weeks. Belanger was arrested on a warrant last month, though she has yet to be indicted by a grand jury. Grand jury proceedings are secret, but Nadeau said in court she anticipates getting the case soon.

Walsh first came to prominence as a leader in the “MarkeyVerse,” a group of progressive teens who took to social media on behalf of Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. 

She was also part of the Mapping Project, which published a map of Jewish businesses and people, including locations of Jewish daycares and schools. It has been denounced as antisemitic and dangerous. She was arrested last year during a protest at the Elbit Systems location in Cambridge, Mass., along with Ross.

Shergalis is a former child actress with credits on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows. 

Northwood School Board’s Caron Faces Hearing Over Obscene, Racist Rants

When the Northwood School Board meets Wednesday night, it won’t be to cover the “three R’s.” Instead, they’ll be dealing with the “N-word” and other racial and obscene comments from one of their own members: outspoken progressive Gary Caron.

Caron has a history of using obscene and sexually explicit language to attack conservatives and Republicans in social posts, and the newest member of Northwood’s School Board hasn’t slowed down since taking office.

When a conservative commentator posted a meme with the message that former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ought to be sent to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp last week, Caron responded with a sexual threat.

“I’d love to see you in GTMO after I [explicit] your ass red raw,” Caron posted.

When another conservative account posted a photo of controversial Republican political candidate Kari Lake around that same time, Caron was quick with a misogynistic response.

“Gfyself lying c—t,” Caron wrote.

Caron posted dozens of obscene, angry, and violent messages on Twitter/X over the past few years, mostly directed at conservative and Republican figures. One post about Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) from January includes an implied racial slur targeting African Americans.

“F**king house N—a sellout coward c***suvker gfyself,” Caron wrote.

After a flurry of complaints over the Presidents Day weekend, Caron’s fellow board members had had enough. Northwood Superintendent Nathaniel Byrne told NHJournal that the board will be addressing Caron’s behavior at the upcoming meeting.

The board will discuss “racist, graphic, and violent social media posts from a current school board member.” Caron plans to be at the meeting, according to Byrne.

Caron was elected to a three-year term on the board last March when he ran unopposed for the seat. The retired engineer worked for the United States Navy on submarine modernization and weapons systems, according to his resume posted on LinkedIn. As part of his work, Caron held a security clearance.

Caron could not be reached for comment as the several phone numbers publicly associated with him, including the cell phone number on his resume, were disconnected or are no longer in service.

According to a questionnaire he filled out prior to last year’s school board election, Caron is concerned with how children are taught history in school.

“Issues of importance are teaching truth, American history, civics, democracy, civil rights, and civil liberties,” Caron wrote.

There is a noticeable lack of advocacy for civil rights — or civility in general — in Caron’s public postings. And he’s made no secret of his partisan leanings, declaring his “hate” for “Trump, his supporters, White men, Christians and Conservatives.”

“This is vile and disgusting. This man makes decisions regarding the materials that will be in the hands of children and public policy,” wrote Manchester politico Victoria Sullivan, one of the Granite Staters who brought Caron’s posts to the school board’s attention.

It’s not clear what Caron will do next or what the board can do about his posts. Byrne has spoken to Caron and told NHJournal he doesn’t know if Caron plans to resign his seat, though the possibility was mentioned.

“I’m not aware of his decision. I do know he will be at the meeting this week,” Byrne said.

Wednesday’s meeting could prove frustrating for anyone hoping the board takes action. Northwood’s school board does not have a policy dealing with social media use by members, Byrne said.

“The board is not allowed to infringe on any other members’ First Amendment rights,” Byrne said.

The board does have a code of ethics policy, however, and Byrne said that will guide Wednesday’s discussion about Caron’s social media posts. But that policy, last updated in 2015, mostly concerns board member interactions with other board members. It does not address how board members conduct themselves with members of the general public.

Former Sen. Woodburn’s Domestic Violence Convictions Overturned

Disgraced Democratic legislative leader Jeff Woodburn’s domestic violence convictions have been wiped out after the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled he was denied a fair defense at trial.

“Because the record contains ‘some evidence’ supporting a rational finding that the defendant acted in self-defense, the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on that theory of defense was unreasonable,” Associate Justice James Bassett wrote.

The state’s high court ruled Thursday that Woodburn should have been able to argue self-defense to the jury. Woodburn (D-Whitefield) was the Democratic state Senate Minority Leader when he was charged in 2018 with assaulting his then-girlfriend.

Woodburn was blocked from arguing that he acted in self-defense against the woman, according to Bassett.

“On several occasions, the court excluded evidence of the complainant’s alleged prior aggressive conduct towards the defendant, including evidence that she had tried to block or restrain him from leaving her during previous conflicts. The defendant argued that this evidence was relevant to his theory of self-defense,” Bassett wrote.

While the court sent the domestic violence case back to Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein, it also upheld Woodburn’s convictions on criminal mischief.

Michael Garrity, communications director for New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, said there is no decision yet on whether or not to bring a new trial against Woodburn. “We are reviewing the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s opinion in the case of State v. Jeffrey Woodburn so that we can determine our next steps,” Garrity said.

Woodburn was New Hampshire’s top-ranking Democratic senator at the time of his arrest. After winning his party’s primary, Woodburn went on to lose the 2018 general election to 75-year-old first-time candidate David Starr.

“It’s disappointing that these convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court on a legal technicality,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “However, other convictions in this case still stand, and Mr. Woodburn will be going to jail for his crimes. He was convicted by a jury of his peers and by a jury that believed the survivor. This decision should not in any way discourage victims of domestic violence from coming forward and reporting abuse.”

According to court records, the convictions stem from Woodburn’s violent actions related to three separate incidents. In the first, Woodburn and the woman arrived in separate vehicles at a Dec. 15, 2017, Christmas party, and the woman agreed to drive him home so that Woodburn could drink at the party. During an argument on the drive home, Woodburn had the woman pull over, and during a struggle over his phone, he bit her hand, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve that same year, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house when she refused to let him inside. in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes dryer, breaking the appliance, police records showed.

The woman went on record telling Bornstein that she tried to grab his phone without permission at one point during her many struggles with Woodburn. Bornstein stated in court that phone grabbing did not rise to the level of behavior that allows for Woodburn’s self-defense claims. 

In the lead-up to the trial, Woodburn’s attorney Donna Brown, sent unredacted copies of sealed court records to press members, effectively leaking the victim’s name to the media.

“His lawyer pro-actively sent copies of unsealed documents to the media,” the alleged victim’s attorney—and former Hillsborough County prosecutor— Patricia LaFrance told NHJournal at the time. “I’ve never seen that in my 16 years as a prosecutor.”

Woodburn was sentenced to two years in jail after his trial, with all but 60 days suspended. He remains free on bail. 

Still No Arrests in Vandalism at NH Pro-Life Center

Littleton police are still investigating vandalism that targeted the town’s pro-life pregnancy center. Months after the incident no arrests have been made. 

Left-wing violence directed at pro-life pregnancy resource centers like Littleton’s Pathways Pregnancy Care Center has surged over the past year. The Catholic News Agency has tracked more than 100 incidents of what it calls “pro-abortion vandalism” since the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs in May 2022. Two of the pro-life facilities were firebombed.

For months, Republicans and pro-life groups have complained that the Biden Department of Justice had not prosecuted a single case. In January,  the DOJ brought charges against two reputed members of the extremist pro-abortion group Jane’s Revenge for a string of attacks on pregnancy centers.

Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith said his department is not deterred, despite the case remaining unsolved. He said investigators can be patient waiting for the right opportunity to bring charges.

“Sometimes it may take six months, it may take eight months for something to break,” Smith said.

Police do have information on a potential suspect in the vandalism, but so far they do not have enough evidence to bring a charge. Smith said there is no indication at this time the June vandalism in Littleton is connected to the Jane’s Revenge movement.

“We have no information it is anything beyond local,” Smith said.

The volunteers at the Littleton center found graffiti on the side of the building that stated, “Fund Abortion, Abort God.” Pathways is an avowed Christian ministry devoted to helping pregnant women. The organization rents its space from the Elevate Church.

Smith has raised the possibility that the case could become a civil rights case depending on what evidence is eventually uncovered.

Pathways offers free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes, and baby supplies as well as help getting social assistance. 

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster has made her opposition to crisis pregnancy centers clear. After the attack on Pathways, she joined a legislative effort led by Massachusetts progressive U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren attempting to criminalize the work done by those organizations.

Caleb Hunter Freestone and Amber Marie Smith-Stewart were indicted on Jan. 18 for their alleged attacks on Christian pregnancy resource centers in Florida, according to court records. The indictments against the pair state they worked with other unnamed conspirators to attack the centers that offer women alternatives to abortion and threaten the people who work there.

Jane’s Revenge attacks typically feature graffiti with the slogan, “If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you.”

According to a report compiled by the civil rights group the Catholic League, Jane’s Revenge is behind dozens of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers. The attacks include numerous firebombings of the centers.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the government’s hesitation to investigate and prosecute Jane’s Revenge has resulted in the continuing violence. He accuses the government of failing to protect pro-life centers through inaction. The recent arrests and indictment of Freestone and Smith-Stewart do not change the government’s lackluster response to what he calls domestic terrorism.

“With the exception of the recent indictment by a federal grand jury of two persons charged with attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, little has been done to prosecute those guilty of such crimes,” Donohue said. “Indeed, the relaxed response to attacks on those in the pro-life community who have been victimized stands in stark contrast to the aggressive pursuit of the few instances of alleged violations of the law by pro-life Americans.”

Cops Called as NHGOP Candidate, Supporters Attacked on Campaign Trail

The violent attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home has raised the profile of political violence. But GOP state Senate candidate Lou Gargiulo says he and his supporters have been dealing with it for days — including incidents that required police involvement.

Gargiulo, a Hampton Falls businessman, is running for the District 24 seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Sherman, (D-Rye.) He is squaring off with outspoken progressive Rep. Deb Altschiller (D-Stratham) in this Seacoast district.

And while he knows the old adage that “politics ain’t beanbag,” Gargiulo says it is getting rough on the campaign trail.

“There’s an extraordinary amount of hostility from some people,” he told NH Journal.

In recent days, Gargiulo’s supporters in Seabrook had a truck driver attempt to swerve into their group twice before he got out of his vehicle looking for a physical confrontation.

“That’s beyond the norm,” Gargiulo said.

Over the weekend, Gargiulo had an iced coffee thrown at him. His wife had a power tool battery thrown at her.

“If that hit her in the head it could have killed her,” he said.

There is always some tension in the closing days of a political campaign, Gargiulo said, but this cycle has seen those sentiments ratcheted up several notches. It is not just that people stop and scream profanities and make obscene hand gestures, he said. People are screaming and making those gestures while they have children in their car and some of the screamers are elderly women, he noted.

“I’ve been screamed at by women in their 70s and 80s,” he said. “There’s no filter anymore.”

Gargiulo says Altschiller has been silent as he and his supporters have been subjected to this harassing and violent treatment.

“My opponent has not said anything,” he said. “This behavior is beyond the pale.”

Altschiller did not respond to a request for comment.

Gargiulo said the driver first drove up to a group of about 10 to 12 of his supporters holding campaign signs and swerved at the group. After driving past them, he turned his truck around and veered toward them a second time, Gargiulo said. The driver then pulled over, got out of his car, and started looking for an altercation.

“He wanted to get into a fistfight,” Gargiulo said.

After that scary situation was diffused, police were called about the matter. Seabrook Police did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.

On Sunday, after his wife was nearly pelted with the power tool battery, Gargiulo contacted the police himself. Rye Police Chief Kevin Walsh said officers are investigating the battery incident.

Gargiulo sees the partisan divide becoming sharper as Democrats sense the coming election is likely to be a tough one for their time. 

“They can feel they are on the brink of a huge red wave and mentally they cannot handle it,” he said.

Gargiulo said Democrats are seeing their election message centered on abortion rights falling flat, and they have only themselves to blame. Granite Staters are worried about record inflation driving up costs at the grocery store and making it hard to heat their homes this coming winter.

“I see hostility, I see anger, it’s because they are not prepared to lose,” Gargiulo said.

In the wake of the attack on Paul Pelosi, Democrats and their allies in the media have tried to argue that GOP messaging is promoting political violence. In particular, they point to Republicans like First Congressional District Republican Karoline Leavitt who say they doubt the outcome of the 2020 election.

Republicans respond by noting the repeated acts of violence targeting people on the right, from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to more than 100 crisis pregnancy centers over the past six months, to the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice that injured six.

While there are always disagreements surrounding politics, even in a quiet community like Rye, Walsh says has not seen this level of anger before. Walsh said the tenor current of political discourse is discouraging.

“It’s America, you can use your words and voice your opinion,” the police chief said. “The component we’re missing is you’re supposed to respect each other. My parents brought me up that you’re supposed to respect that people have different viewpoints.”

Neil Levesque, executive director at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, told Jack Heath that St. Anselm College is releasing a new poll Tuesday night, and the early numbers show “independents are breaking toward Republicans.”

“It’s trouble at the end [for Democrats] because inflation is the issue that’s swaying these independent voters toward Republicans,” Levesque told Heath.

Vandals Hit Littleton Pregnancy Center, Part of National Trend

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May, there have been dozens of attacks against pregnancy clinics offering counseling and care to women considering alternatives to abortion. On Tuesday, that trend came to New Hampshire when the Pathways Pregnancy Care Center was vandalized.

According to Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith, volunteers at the center found graffiti on the side of the building reading “Fund Abortion, Abort God.” Pathways is a faith-based ministry devoted to helping pregnant women renting space from the Elevate Church.

Police in Littleton say it is too early to tell if the vandalism counts as a hate crime.  “It could be determined as the facts develop that this is a hate crime,” Smith said.

Shannon McGinley of Cornerstone Action, however, says there is no doubt. “This is a hate crime.”

The FBI is investigating more than 40 violent attacks on pregnancy centers and churches in the wake of the Supreme Court leak. Some centers have been firebombed, and others have had significant damage from vandalism. The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.

Smith said his investigators are working on the case, and they have already contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office about the possibility this could end up charged as a hate crime.

Michael Garrity, director of communications at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state Attorney General’s Office is watching for Littleton’s results.

“At this point, our office is aware of an incident at the center. The Littleton Police Department alerted our Civil Rights Unit, flagging the incident as one of concern,” Garrity said. “We are now closely monitoring an active, ongoing investigation being carried out by Littleton Police investigators. Our Civil Rights Unit will ultimately look at how the facts and circumstances of the case develop.”

Under New Hampshire law, a person who commits a crime “motivated … because of hostility towards the victim’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or sex,” could face enhanced penalties. Smith said the alleged crime might be charged as misdemeanor criminal mischief if there is no hate crime component found during the investigation. Misdemeanors rarely result in jail time.

Pathways offers free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes, baby supplies, as well as help with getting social assistance, among other services.

“There are three times as many Pregnancy Care Centers (PCC) in New Hampshire as there are abortion facilities. We are even blessed with two maternity homes,” McGinley said. “Every client is treated with compassion and respect – regardless of the decision they choose for their pregnancy. Empowering women to make informed decisions is a top priority,” McGinley said.

Pro-abortion activists, however, have attacked these facilities for years, raising their profile as a possible target. An abortion extremist group, Jane’s Revenge, has taken credit for some of the recent attacks, including smashing the doors and windows of a Michigan clinic.

Their message: “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you.”

Last week, Kayla Montgomery, vice president of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, took to the airwaves to attack the facilities in New Hampshire.

“I want to be clear; crisis pregnancy centers are not based in science or in medicine,” Montgomery told WMUR. “If people need care, they should call their local Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire abortion provider who will provide honest, compassionate, non-judgmental care and explain the full range of options.”

Montgomery did not respond to a request for comment about the vandalism in Littleton.

And Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has also been critical of these facilities in the past, accusing them of offering “fake health” in order to trick women into keeping their babies.

“In New Hampshire – and at more than 2,700 locations across our nation – women are walking into fake women’s health centers, misleadingly called ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ believing that they are receiving medically sound, neutral advice about pregnancy. But these centers really exist to serve one purpose: preventing women from accessing abortion,” Hassan wrote in 2018.

Hassan, who has kept a steady stream of public comments about abortion rights over the past two months, has been silent on both the spike in attacks on pregnancy centers and the threats targeting Supreme Court justices — including a failed assassination — since the Alito opinion leaked.

McGinley says there is a clear double standard.

“These kinds of attacks underscore the cynical nature of arguments that pro-life people do not offer enough material assistance to women in need. When abortion advocates—from arsonist groups to Elizabeth Warren—threaten pregnancy care centers, they are saying that assistance to women is immoral unless it specifically promotes abortion,” McGinley said. “Their goal is not helping the vulnerable. Their goal is to spread abortion like a religion—and they don’t care if that means taking services away from women in need.”

Executive Director of Pathways Pregnancy Care Center Angel Marshall said their mission will continue.

Pathways will not allow a hate crime to hinder the much-needed support we provide.  This has not and will not deter us from serving our community,” Marshall said. “Empowering men, women, and teens to make informed decisions is a top priority. I am working closely with the Littleton Police Department in this investigation. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the center’s staff, volunteers, and clients.”

Smith said the volunteers at Pathways are responding to the vandalism by organizing more help to provide security at the center. He’s asking anyone with information to contact Littleton Police at 603 444 7711.

Dartmouth Cancels Ngo Event in Face of Antifa Threats

HANOVER —Dartmouth College administrators canceled an on-campus appearance by conservative journalist Andy Ngo’s Thursday night after a deluge of online threats from Antifa members.

Ngo, who has built a national reputation covering violent, far-Left protests often given little attention by the mainstream media, was set to appear at an event hosted by the Dartmouth College Republicans and the conservative activists of Turning Point USA.  

New Hampshire Journal was turned away at the door of Moore Hall by Dartmouth security on Thursday evening. The college security officer said the event was changed to be an online appearance, but he would not say why the change was made.

“That’s a decision above my pay grade,” the security officer said.

“The administration canceled the event and gave the student organizers the choice of holding a last-minute zoom meeting or nothing at all,” Ngo told NHJournal Thursday night. “An event on violent extremism was threatened by violent extremists. It’s a cliche. Why did the College wait until two hours before the event to drop the ultimatum on organizers and speakers? Dartmouth College’s decision actually gives a blueprint for extremists to shut down future events.”

Police stand outside Dartmouth College’s Moore Hall after conservative journalist Andy Ngo’s appearance was canceled by campus administrators.

Several municipal police officers from Hanover and nearby Lebanon police departments were visible on the campus near Moore Hall Thursday evening. Hanover police declined to comment on the cancellation when contacted. 

Dartmouth College’s Associate Vice President for Communications Diana Lawrence said the event was moved online after it became clear it could not be held safely in person.

“In light of concerning information from Hanover police regarding safety issues, similar concerns expressed by the College Republican leadership, and challenges with the student organization’s ability to staff a large public event and communicate effectively (including dissemination of the visitor policy and a prohibition on bags in the building), the college has requested that the ‘Extremism in America’ panel be moved online,” Lawrence said.

There was no visible presence of protestors Thursday night. A pair of men turned away at the doors, who appeared to be in their 30s and 40s, respectively, said they were on the college campus to attend the event. They declined to answer any further questions. 

Ngo and former Antifa member Gabe Nadales were set to speak about extremism in America at the event. After Dartmouth’s order, Ngo tweeted:

“The admin of @dartmouth College canceled the live speaking event about #Antifa featuring myself & @OGNadales due to security concerns. (Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in.) This is extremely disappointing but we’re continuing in a virtual capacity.”

News of Ngo’s appearance got members of Antifa organized into planning a counterprotest in the days leading up to the event, with some making threats to stop Ngo at all costs.

Police officers stand outside Dartmouth College’s Moore Hall after an in-person appearance by conservative journalist Andy Ngo was canceled on January 20, 2022.

“When you enter our home you play by our rules, not yours,” the Northeast Antifa social media account posted. “New England is anti-fascists, and we will hold that line till death.”

The Green Mountain John Brown Gun Club stated online it “called up reserves” of Antifa super soldiers to be on hand for the event. A member of a Portland, Ore. Antifa group, Jonathan Dylan Chase, offered money for anyone who managed to assault Ngo during his Dartmouth appearance.

Antifa is a decentralized organization of people who claim to be anti-fascists and has been at the heart of violent street protests for years, clashing with both innocent political protestors and aggressive white supremacists along the way. Members of Antifa have engaged in violent protests in Portland, Ore. over the past few years, where Ngo gained fame covering the clashes between Portland’s Antifa and white supremacists like the Proud Boys. 

Ngo has been accused of serving as a propagandist for the Proud Boys in exchange for protection at the protests, something he has denied. Ngo was assaulted by Antifa protesters in 2019 in an incident in which he was punched repeatedly and hospitalized due to his injuries.

Dartmouth, once a bastion of free speech, has evolved like many progressive campuses to be hostile territory for speakers from the Right. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) ranks Dartmouth 63rd in the nation for its campus culture supporting free speech.

Lawrence said the college strives to make sure all viewpoints are heard on campus, so long as it can be done safely. 

“Dartmouth prizes and defends the right of free speech and the freedom of the individual to make their own disclosures, while at the same time recognizing that such freedom exists in the context of the law and in responsibility for one’s own actions. The exercise of these rights must not deny the same rights to any other individual. The institution therefore both fosters and protects the rights of individuals to express dissent,” Lawerence said. “Protest or demonstration shall not be discouraged so long as neither force nor the threat of force is used, and so long as the orderly processes of the institution are not deliberately obstructed.” 

Last year’s appearance by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) drew a crowd from the Democratic Socialist Club at Dartmouth, and liberals on campus reportedly engaged in vandalism of the posters for the event.

The Democratic Socialist Club protest itself descended into obscene anti-police chants directed at the sole Hanover police officer observing the proceedings, though there was no reported violence at the event.