Civil rights

Neo-Nazi Group's Hateful Banner Over Route 1 in NH Prompts Civil Rights Charges

The attorney general alleges that Christopher Hood, the leader of NSC-131, and Leo Anthony Cullinan were among members who hung a banner with a hateful message from an overpass over Route 1 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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NBC Connecticut

The leader of a New England neo-Nazi group and a second man are accused of hanging a hateful banner over Route 1 in New Hampshire this summer, an act that the attorney general says violates the state's Civil Rights Act.

The charges stem from actions of the National Social Club-131 (NSC-131) members on July 30, 2022. NSC-131 is a neo-Nazi group with chapters in New England, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office alleged Tuesday that Christopher Hood, the leader of NSC-131, and Leo Anthony Cullinan were among members who hung the banner, which read "keep New England white," from an overpass over Route 1 in Portsmouth. Doing so involved trespassing on public property, investigators said.

"The only reasonable interpretation is that the slogan and group’s intention was to discourage people of color from residing in or visiting and making them feel unwelcome and unsafe in the New England region, New Hampshire, and Portsmouth," the complaint read.

The motivation, paired with the fact that the banner was hung from a highway overpass and interfered with the lawful activities of others, raises it to the level of a potential Civil Rights Violation, prosecutors said.

Hood and Collinan were each charged with violating the New Hampshire Civil Rights Act via civil complaint. The group itself, NSC-131, could also be held liable for violating the Civil Rights Act, prosecutors said, noting that authorities continue to try to identify the members involved in the incident.

Each violation can carry a penalty of up to $5,000. If found in violation, the court can also restrain the defendant from committing future violations of the Civil Rights Act and other hate-motivated conduct for three years. The complaint is looking for $10,000 in fines against Hood and a $5,000 fine against Collinan.

It was not immediately clear if they had an attorney.

The investigation is ongoing.

A New England-based neo-Nazi group held a brief rally early Saturday afternoon at the Soldiers Monument in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

NSC-131 has been involved in other hate incidents in the Boston area. According to the ADL, "NSC-131 members see themselves as soldiers at war with a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race."

Hood has faced charges in other incidents as well.

Civil Rights complaints can be reported to the attorney general's office at this link.

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