Some two dozen members of a neo-Nazi group descended on a hotel parking lot in Kingston on Sunday, exposing anti-refugee beliefs and distributing pamphlets before police told them they weren’t welcome on the private property, authorities said.
Video footage posted to Twitter appeared to show several demonstrators wearing face coverings marked with the Nationalist Social Club 131 logo.
The hate group, known as NSC-131, has staged demonstrations outside drag queen story hours in recent months and in September displayed racist and antisemitic banners over highways in Saugus and Danvers.
Shortly after noon Sunday, police arrived at the Baymont Inn & Suites on Main Street in Kingston after receiving “multiple calls” about a gathering there. Officers found more than 20 people wearing matching garb and face masks in the parking lot, police said in a statement.
“The individuals were dressed in matching attire of tan pants, black sweatshirts/jackets, hats, and their faces were covered with masks,” police said. “The individuals displayed signage, handed out pamphlets, and used a loudspeaker to express anti-refugee beliefs and to advertise their group affiliation.”
More than 100 migrants and homeless people have been staying at the hotel after recently being relocated to the South Shore. Town Administrator Keith Hickey said last week that state officials expect the arrivals will stay there through the end of the year. The group consists of 107 people, 64 of them children. Most are unauthorized immigrants and non-English speakers from Haiti.
The state chapter of CAIR, an advocacy group for the Muslim community, denounced the demonstration.
“It is unconscionable that bigots would target vulnerable individuals and families at a time when they are in desperate need of community support,” CAIR-Massachusetts Executive Director Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said in a statement. “This troubling incident is further evidence of the necessity for all Americans to push back against the rising level of xenophobia, racism and bigotry in our society.”
The families that recently arrived in Kingston and Plymouth are among thousands of migrants who have reached the Boston area in recent months after entering the United States at the southern border. Nonprofits and state agencies have been struggling to keep up with the pace of new arrivals, with staff, money, and housing in short supply.
The surge of migrants reaching Boston is a ripple effect of a national immigration crisis emanating from the southern border. The Republican governor of Texas and the Democratic mayor of El Paso have bused thousands of migrants north to alleviate overcrowding in Texas cities.
In September, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew 49 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in a protest against the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
On Sunday in Kingston, hotel management told officers the masked demonstrators weren’t welcome on the property, police said. That message was conveyed to the group, which “immediately” exited the property, officials said.
“The group then spent some time on the public sidewalk in the area before they dispersed,” police said. “There were no reports of violence.”
No arrests were made. Police officials couldn’t immediately be reached for further comment.
In July, Boston police arrested the founder of NSC-131 in Jamaica Plain, where he was leading a demonstration of about 20 masked men outside a historic pre-Revolutionary War home where families had gathered for a children’s drag queen story hour, police and witnesses said.
Christopher R. Hood Jr., 23, of Pepperell, was charged with affray and disturbing the peace. Hood established NSC-131 in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center have classified NSC-131 as a neo-Nazi group.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the white supremacist protests against refugee arrivals in Kingston this weekend,” said Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, in a statement Monday. “The rise in white supremacist sentiment across Massachusetts, against migrant communities and far too many communities of color, stands in sharp contrast to the way Massachusetts communities have welcomed migrants.”
Sweet credited everyone in Massachusetts who’s offered help to migrants arriving in the state.
“We praise all of the individuals, advocacy organizations, and public officials that have assisted the recent migrant arrivals in Kingston, and know that the vast majority of people in Massachusetts share their goodwill,” Sweet said. “The MIRA Coalition will continue to advocate for the recent arrivals in Kingston, and all migrants that hope to call Massachusetts home.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.