Portland man’s arrest highlights growing white nationalist movement
The arrest of a Portland neo-Nazi last week on child pornography charges was a stark reminder that white nationalist extremist groups have flourished in the United States and that New England is not immune .
But an expert from the National Socialist Club, or NSC-131, said the extremist group that recently established a presence in Maine represents a tiny branch of the larger world of white supremacist groups and could only number around 20. members in New England.
“They formed in early 2020 and are a very small bunch of people, kind of outcasts of groups like Patriot Front and other groups that fell apart,” said Carla Hill, associate director of the Center on Extremism for the Anti-Defamation. League that follows the NSC.
Andrew Hazelton, 28, is being held in a New Hampshire jail on a federal charge of possession of child pornography. The criminal case was the result of a report by a Portland business owner who had employed Hazelton, grew increasingly alarmed by his behavior and feared he was committing a shootout at his workplace. The employer called the police after receiving anonymous information with an image showing someone pointing a stun gun at another employee in their office.
Hazelton is a white supremacist and former member of the NSC-131, who was trained in Massachusetts and pushes age-old racist tropes that were touted by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. He targets Jews and non-whites and seeks to create an underground resistance group.
NSC stands for Nationalist Social Club. The “131” stands for the letters ACA, for Anti-Communist Action, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups in the United States.
Hazelton had stacks of crisp, freshly printed NSC flyers in his apartment at the time of his arrest, which were shown to a reporter by Hazelton’s roommate. Propaganda calls on white men to organize and protect their families and property from suspected enemies.
NSC is largely a propaganda organization. Its tactics include racist literature campaigns and so-called “banners”, where a small group of followers deploy a message from a highway overpass. They also brag online about training with guns. Most of their posts revolve around pictures of a small number of members with their faces hidden, holding flags or gesturing with their hands.
“Unlike some of these other groups who wrap white supremacy in a more acceptable political garb, the NSC makes their white supremacy evident,” Hill said.
“They’re sort of focused on a corner of the grass, they mark it as theirs like any street gang,” she said. “It’s kind of a crude version of white supremacy.”
Hill said members of the NSC are small cliques and often their public actions consist of a single small group going to another state to make themselves appear larger than they really are.
The NSC also appears to be adopting a bizarre custom made popular by another far-right terrorist group, the Proud Boys, which insist their members refrain from masturbating. NSC-131 posted anti-porn images and messages, and in a clip posted on their Telegram channel, a pornographic magazine was burnt to the screen.
The belief, Hill said, is that pornography and masturbation somehow undermines the manhood of white men and the white race.
This may explain why the group kicked out Hazelton this week by name and said on social media that they would institute more background checks and “phone checks” in the future, an apparent reference to investigators allege. having found child pornography on Hazelton’s cell phone.
Although the NSC probably has no more than two dozen members spread across the six New England states, other groups with similar ideology continue to be the main terrorist threat in the country, according to a homeland of New England. October 2020. threat assessment by the Department of Homeland Security. These groups have carried out more deadly attacks on Americans since 2018 than any other ideological group, targeting people because of their perceived religious, ethnic, or racial affiliations.
Members of the NSC also appeared to have participated in the January 6 riot and sacking of the U.S. Capitol building, according to images posted in a public chat on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app that has become a safe haven for some extremists who have been expelled. on Twitter and Facebook, more common.
They sometimes wave flags that resemble the original flag of Maine which feature a prominent, centered silhouette of a pine tree and the slogan “A Call to Heaven”, hijacking a quote from 17th century philosopher John Locke that they believe empowers them. in committing violence they believe it is fair.
Steve Brinn, chairman of the board of trustees of the Maine Jewish Museum and board member of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, attributed the recent surge in anti-Semitic and racist incidents in part to the hateful presidency of Donald Trump. . groups closer to the mainstream, encouraging them to take action.
“I think Trump has a great responsibility in taking the blame for this escalation, because I think his hate-preaching attitude a lot of people buy into it,” Brinn said. “It really is a worrying trend.”
Brinn said the racist flyer campaigns aim to test the waters and find out which communities will tolerate them, and said they may be a step on the path to more violent action. This is why it is important for groups to speak out against racist images and messages wherever they emerge, he said.
Overall, there has been a significant increase in incidents of white supremacist propaganda nationwide, and the NSC was responsible for a small portion of it. Examples include the posting of stickers and flyers that have been circulating around Portland in recent months.
It is not known how many members are in Maine, but the outbreak of the propaganda in Portland coincided with a March message posted by the group saying it had spread to the state, according to the Anti -Defamation League.
The group’s ideology focuses on the politics of white grievances; he tries to frame local problems through the prism of the suffering of whites at the hands of strangers, namely blacks and Jews, who they believe enjoy preferential treatment in society and have supplanted authority white.
While Portland Police have said they are aware of the posters, they do not necessarily constitute a crime, Lt. Robert Martin said.
“It’s a fringe group, it’s not representative of the wider community,” Hill said. “What they do is freedom of speech, for the most part, the banners, the stickers. Most of it is freedom of speech. But it is important for the community to tear it down, denounce it and call it what it is – white supremacist propaganda.
Catalytic converters stolen from various vehicles in Portland, police say