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‘Security plan’ to stop neo-Nazis from ruining St Patrick’s Day parade in Boston

The city’s authorities are to coordinate efforts to avoid a repeat of last year’s spectacle when the extreme nationalist group NSC-131 hung a banner that read ‘Keep Boston Irish’ along the parade route.

Neo-Nazis gathered at last year's parade

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

South Boston is preparing an “enhanced security plan” to prevent neo-Nazis from ruining this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

The city’s authorities are to coordinate efforts to avoid a repeat of last year’s spectacle when the extreme nationalist group NSC-131 hung a banner that read ‘Keep Boston Irish’ along the parade route.

Along with their banner, the white supremacists wore paraphernalia related to the Nationalist Social Club, which is listed as a neo-Nazi organisation by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

They also wore masks with the number “131” and displayed a version of the Celtic cross that’s been used by white supremacists.

The presence of the masked members at the parade was later widely condemned by both parade organisers and elected officials who insisted the group was "not welcome" and that the display was "disgusting."

Politicians wrote to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) ahead of this year’s parade on Sunday, March 20, which is expected to attract as many as one million people.

The five Boston politicians were planning to meet with MBTA Chief Kenneth Green, “to collaborate on a security plan for our public transit system to ensure a safe and inclusive event for all”.

The letter reads: “In 2022, MBTA passengers and parade watchers had the unfortunate experience of enduring the presence of the Nationalist Social Club (NSC-131), a neo-Nazi group with chapters based in the New England region.

“We know that this group’s members travelled to into the capital city on public transit via our MBTA and Commuter Rail system.

“On Parade Day, they defaced public property...and in the city with a hateful propaganda.

“This along with the excessive transport and consumption of alcohol by underage individuals cannot be tolerated.”

The letter was signed by Congressman Stephen Lynch, State Senator Nick Collins, State Representative David BIele, City Council President Edward Flynn, and City Councillor At-Large Michael F Flaherty who shared the letter on Twitter.

State Senator Collins told a news conference on the day the group issued their letter to the MBTA: “We want to make sure that those who are coming in feel safe, and that those who want to come in and cause (trouble) know that that won’t be tolerated.

"We're trying to be proactive," Collins added. "Those who want to use public property and deface public property, they'll be held accountable."

Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan said they were committed to ensuring all individuals coming into the St Patrick's Day Parade via the MBTA “feel safe and are free from any form of intimidation and harassment”.

Sullivan added: "The Transit Police department will have an enhanced security plan surrounding this family-oriented event honouring tradition and service."

Collins separately told WGBH: “Folks are concerned about the curtailing of free speech and the First Amendment. We're not talking about that. They defaced public property, and that's against the law. So we're sending the message out that if you break the law, you'll be held accountable.”

After the group's letter was issued, City Council President Flynn told The Boston Globe: "This is a city that respects people of colour and our immigrant roots.

“We are an inclusive city, and we treat everyone with respect and dignity.

“Any type of hate speech or hate crimes will not be tolerated."

A city spokesperson also told the Globe that Mayor Michelle Wu’s office is working with the Boston Police Department to ensure the St. Patrick’s Day parade is a “safe and welcoming event” for all residents and visitors.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the NSC-131 is a neo-Nazi group with small chapters based in the New England region.

“The NSC-131 members see themselves as soldiers at war,” the League reports on its website, who “seek to form an underground network of white men who are willing to fight against their perceived enemies through localized direct actions”.

After last year’s stunt the neo-Nazi group posted a video online that showed their activities at the parade for the day, including handing out fliers that read, "if you love your heritage and your city, join us!" and "above all, we stand for the security and prosperity of white New Englanders.”

The song featured in the neo-Nazi group's video was "The Boys are Back" by Irish American rock band Dropkick Murphys, who later took to Twitter to denounce the group.

"F----- Losers. Stop using our song for your little dress up party video. We will SMASH you,” they stormed.

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