BOSTON — A new report from the Anti-Defamation League released Tuesday outlines what the organization says are critical steps officials in Massachusetts can take to combat a startling rise in white nationalist and neo-Nazi activity and hate crimes over the past two years.

Antisemitic incidents skyrocketed, white supremacists held more events, hate group propaganda efforts increased, and a local neo-Nazi group is growing rapidly from a Massachusetts-based infestation to a regional organization, the ADL said in its “Hate in the Bay State” report.

But Beacon Hill legislators have several tools before them this legislative session the ADL said can be utilized to fight back against a troubling trend residents have witnessed all across the state.

That includes passing bills creating civil remedies for targets of online hate, holding social media companies accountable for moderating hate on their platforms, and strengthening hate crime reporting among law enforcement.

Extremists have targeted Massachusetts with the intention to instill fear and intimidation “through their stunts, propaganda and increasingly aggressive demonstrations,” said Peggy Shukur, interim regional director of ADL New England.

Their goal, Shukur told the Herald, is “to create a lot of noise, engage in something dramatic, get a lot of attention.” She pointed to the July 2022 Patriot Front march, where about 100 members of the white nationalist group walked through downtown Boston and across Boston Common.


“For the visit, in your face expression of their hate to say ‘you think you are so, you know, so liberal … in Massachusetts, but we’re going to show you, we’re gonna use our rights of freedom of expression to march right across your sort of sacred Boston Common,” Shukur said. “It’s just a way for them to amplify their message without actually a lot of people.”

Over the last two years, the ADL reported a 41% rise in antisemitic incidents from 2021 to 2022, 34 white supremacist events, a 71% increase in white supremacist propaganda distributions, one extremist attack in Massachusetts, and 412 reported hate crimes.

A masked group display a banner with the words “Keep Boston Irish,” along the route of the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 20, 2022, in the South Boston neighborhood. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Massachusetts had the sixth-highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in the country in 2022. That includes a July 2021 stabbing of a rabbi outside the Shaloh House Jewish Day School in Boston and multiple vandalism incidents involving swastikas.

The state also saw more public action from the Nationalist Social Club, or NSC-131, a neo-Nazi group led by Christoper Hood, a young white male who is embroiled in a lawsuit alleging violations of the New Hampshire Civil Rights Act.

Gov. Maura Healey said the report outlines what many Massachusetts residents experience every day.

“Organized hate exists here in Massachusetts,” Healey said in a statement provided by the ADL.


Among the ADL’s recommendations is a call to mandate that law enforcement agencies report “comprehensive hate crime data” on a quarterly basis. That also includes setting up a place to collect hate crime information and reports “voluntarily produced” by non-law enforcement groups.

Shukur said Massachusetts does a “fairly good job” reporting hate crimes to the FBI compared to other states.

“But at the same time, no state is doing a great job. There are entire major cities that don’t report at all,” Shukur said. “Massachusetts, on the other hand, does a better job than most, but hate crimes are notoriously underreported.”

The organization also advocates for legislation that would add sex and gender as protected identity characteristics under the state’s hate crime statutes and a bill that would ensure “associational” hate crimes are covered under Massachusetts law, specifically when it comes to landlords and tenants.

Attorney General Andrea Campbell said the rise in extremism is a “chilling reminder” of the work officials and communities still have to do to combat hate and protect residents.

“My office is committed to standing up for marginalized communities that have been targeted and harmed by hate in all forms, and will use every resource we have available under the law to hold accountable those who make them feel unsafe,” Campbell said in a statement provided by the ADL.

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