Two states are filing lawsuits to curtail the activities of a neo-Nazi organization


A MARTÍNEZ, HOST: Attorneys general in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are filing lawsuits to curtail the increasingly public activities of a neo-Nazi group called NSC-131. NPR's domestic extremism correspondent Odette Yousef joins us now. All right. NSC-131 - who are they, and what are they doing, Odette?

ODETTE YOUSEF, BYLINE: Well, A, NSC-131 stands for Nationalist Social Club Anti-Communist Action. It was started in 2019 by a Massachusetts man named Christopher Hood and now has an estimated 20 to 30 active members. They are explicitly neo-Nazi, pursuing a white nationalist agenda. And these suits relate to activities that the group undertook mostly in 2022, 2023, when it was deliberately trying to increase its public profile throughout New England. Its members disrupted several drag queen story hours at libraries and other establishments. They patrolled neighborhoods, and they visited several hotels that were putting up asylum-seekers, targeting and harassing migrants and other patrons. In several instances, A, the group has been involved in physical violence. But actually, these are not criminal charges. These are civil lawsuits.

MARTÍNEZ: Why not? I mean, they sound like crimes, especially violence. So why is this being pursued in civil court?

YOUSEF: Yeah. I put that question to Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell, and here's what she said.

ANDREA CAMPBELL: We think we have a strong case here to hold them accountable, frankly, not focusing on individual acts, but the pattern and the persistent harassing and threatening behavior we're seeing that is targeting and terrorizing people all across the Commonwealth.

YOUSEF: So the strategy in Massachusetts, A, is to string together several incidents to argue that this organization is engaging in illegal activity to violate residents' civil rights. Now, in New Hampshire, the state's - that state's taking a different approach. That case is focusing on just one incident where the group disrupted a drag queen story hour at a restaurant in Concord. And the state's claiming that this amounted to trying to terrorize an establishment into violating the state's law against discrimination.

Read More