Sunday, July 22, 2007

Battling hate

Neo-Nazi movement active in Mass.
Christopher Loh,

Neo-Nazi and white separatist movements are active in the Boston area and showing signs of growing statewide.

At the same time, FBI statistics show Massachusetts is among the five states with the most hate crimes per capita in the nation. State officials said they are now considering reconstituting the Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes, disbanded in 2003 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Among the hate groups documented in the state are the National Socialist Movement, the National Vanguard, Volksfront - all in Boston - North East White Pride in Chelsea and White Revolution in Haverhill, according to the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Web forums, such as that of North East White Pride, give a variety of groups a place to share their messages of intolerance and plan meetings, leafleting campaigns and rallies. operator Robert O'Donovan - who also owns the domain with Nazi-inspired name - said an Aug.4 get-together planned for Salem could draw the "boot-wearing, shaved-head" skinhead and others with similar leanings as other meetings have.

Attendance at these meetings, he said, has grown from a handful a couple years ago to dozens, and individual members on the site are now in the hundreds.

Stormfront, a Florida-based national white supremacist site, claims 2,000 Bay State members.

The site espouses the view that "the white race is in peril and that our No. 1 job is to defend the white race. The peril is being dispossessed, displaced or ethnically cleansed," said Stormfront owner Jamie Kelso. "We're being shoved out of our neighborhoods, schools, crowded off our freeways, pushed out of employment - it's happening everywhere."

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, said those views are typical of today's white supremacist.

"They tend to be people who have other problems in their lives - work problems, personality problems - and who are looking for an explanation that doesn't involve any personal responsibility," he said. "For these people, it is much easier to blame their own problems on the family of different color who moved in down the block - it's classic scapegoating."

White supremacist group members and those who monitor them alike note the vast majority of hate crimes - anything from threats, violence to scrawled epithets - are committed by individuals rather than the groups themselves.

Leonard Alkins, president emeritus of Boston's chapter of the NAACP, said as tough as it may be to swallow, our nation's guarantee of free speech allows these groups to exist.

"The most you can do is monitor their activities and to make communities aware of who they are and where they are so that they can be alert to make sure they don't do anything that violates the law," said Alkins.

Published on Sun, Jul 22, 2007

Source: BostonNOW

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