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Racist flyers in Connecticut are part of a rise in incidents of hate across New England

Domestic Terrorism
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Stacey G. Sobel of the Anti-Defamation League displays a white supremacist propaganda leaflet during a news conference to discuss the threat of domestic violent extremism and gun violence with U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut, May 20, 2022.

People throughout New England are being confronted more and more by white supremacist incidents. There was a march on Boston on July 3 by a group called Patriot Front. Also, a Massachusetts-based group called the Nationalist Social Club of New England continues to drop racist flyers in Connecticut.

The Anti-Defamation League says that since February, racist flyers have appeared in 19 Connecticut towns – 10 since June 1.

“They might not be criminal, but nonetheless they are things that communities need to be aware of because they represent white supremacist beliefs being spread throughout our state,” said Stacey Sobel, the director of ADL Connecticut.

The recent flyers come as ADL Connecticut reported a record high in antisemitic incidents in Connecticut in 2021. Reports of incidents jumped by more than 40% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Over the past five years, ADL Connecticut said it’s received more than 180 reports of incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault. Reports of hate incidents have been on the rise across New England and the U.S.

Berlin, Waterbury and Torrington are among local municipalities that have been blanketed by the racist flyers in recent weeks. They feature the Nationalist Social Club of New England logo. The flyers say the club is a “pro-white fraternity” and they call on “men of European descent” in the area to reach out to the club.

Lt. Brett Johnson of the Torrington Police Department said that his agency recently received a few complaints about the flyers but that ultimately, the club and its messaging are protected by free speech.

“As there were no threats made in flyers, there is nothing criminal about the dissemination of the flyers other than in the way they were disseminated (littering),” Johnson said in an email. “In any case, we have reported the incident to other Connecticut and federal law enforcement agencies to monitor the situation.”

Sobel said the incident being reported by Torrington law enforcement is important because the data can inform policymakers.

As for state police, a spokesperson says the Hate Crimes Investigative Unit of the Connecticut State Police is not investigating the incident.

“The local agencies are investigating the incident and we are assisting them as needed,” Trooper First Class Pedro Muniz wrote in an email.

Sobel recognizes that the flyer drop isn’t exactly a hate crime, but she does classify it as a “hate incident,” one she says state residents need to stand up to.

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