New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella is making good on his promise to target hate groups, announcing a new civil complaint against a notorious gang of New England Neo-Nazis.
The move comes as the state is also considering hate crimes charges against the three people who conducted an antisemitic, pro-Palestinian attack on an Israeli-owned business in Merrimack.
Christopher Hood, founder of NSC-131, and 19 NSC-131 members are accused of violating New Hampshire’s anti-discrimination law for allegedly trying to stop a drag queen story hour event at Concord’s Teatotaller Cafe this summer.
The identity of the other 19 men is not known. They are listed as John Does in the complaint.
Assistant Attorney General Sean Locke heads up the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit and said Wednesday that NSC-131’s actions at Teatotaller crossed the line from protest to discriminatory harassment.
“This isn’t a protest where a person, or a couple of people, are standing out on a sidewalk with a sign saying, ‘I don’t agree with what’s going on here,’” Locke said.
According to the complaint, “Hood and the other men stood outside the café and, for over an hour, faced into the café shouting homophobic slurs and phrases, loudly chanting and saluting in a fashion reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The complaint alleges that the men, led by Hood, banged on the café’s glass windows, and made intimidating gestures and comments directed at the performer and those in the café.”
Hood and his NSC-131 followers posted videos and photos of the incident on the group’s social media. Hood and his gang are behind dozens of sometimes violent demonstrations targeting racial minorities and members of the LGBTQ community throughout New England.
Despite the intimidating actions, NSC-131 did not stop the drag event at Teatotaller, according to drag performer Juicy Garland. Garland posted on social media soon after the event, saying the show continued.
“The cafe (and community) there is FANTASTIC, and racist outsiders came in to make it miserable,” Garland wrote on Twitter. “We prevailed and had a great time with the families anyway.”
Amid a surge of antisemitic words and actions in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel, Formella announced plans last month to step up enforcement against hate groups in the state, adding another attorney and additional staff to the Civil Rights Unit.
According to Formella, the Civil Rights Unit has seen a 465 percent increase in complaints and referrals over the last five years, from 40 to 186. He attributed the rise to various factors, including the increased racial and ethnic diversity, an increase in divisive political rhetoric, and “a rise in tension and conflict around the world.”
Last month, three women were arrested at the Elbit Systems facility in Merrimack after vandalizing the building, breaking windows, and setting off smoke bombs. Members of Palestine Action USA — Calla Walsh, 19, Bridget Shergalis, 27, and Sophie Ross, 22 — were charged with criminal trespass, riot, and sabotage for the incident.
Locke said his unit is working with Merrimack Police and the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office. More charges in the case are possible, including hate crime charges.
“Any and all charges that can be brought will be bought,” Locke said.
When Formella announced the increase in resources in the Civil Rights Unit, which was made at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, NHJournal asked if the state’s hate crimes laws gave his office the authority to prosecute Palestine Action USA for any role it may have had in the Elbit attack.
“The answer is yes,” Formella said. “Organizations and entities can be held responsible for the acts of their members.”
Palestine Action USA is being bankrolled by multi-millionaire Communist James “Fergie” Chambers.
At the University of New Hampshire, Locke’s team is in contact with the Durham campus police department as several antisemitic incidents are currently under investigation. However, one incident in which students and faculty called for Jewish genocide is not being investigated.
UNH granted the Pro-Palestinian group Answer Coalition permission to hold a rally on Nov. 9, the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or Night of the Broken Glass.
Locke said the UNH Police Department has not asked for his assistance in that matter.
Locke is still trying to secure a win against NSC-131 for a July 2022 incident in which the group hung a banner with the message “Keep New England White” off a Route 1 overpass in Portsmouth. After the case was dismissed in court on free speech grounds, the Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal with the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Locke said Wednesday he expects NSC-131 to raise the First Amendment in its defense, and he and his team are prepared to make their case.
“We expect the First Amendment is going to be an issue raised, and we certainly expect it to be raised,” Locke said.
Hood and his gang are facing a civil rights case in Massachusetts after the Bay State brought a case last week. The gang allegedly targeted LGBTQ events and immigrants.
Experts who monitor hate groups, like Kristopher Goldsmith’s Task Force Butler, said NSC-131 ought to be treated like a violent, terrorist gang by authorities. The group’s demonstrations feature assaults and escalating violent behavior, Goldsmith has said.
Hood, whose last address was in Newburyport, Mass., started NSC-131 after he was kicked out of the white supremacist group, Patriot Front. He also has reported ties to violent hate groups like The Base.
The Teatotaller case is first being filed with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights, and Locke said he is asking the commission to refer the complaint to the Superior Court for civil prosecution. He said he hopes the process will be done in the next 20 to 30 days.