White supremacist signs posted in Oak Bluffs under investigation

Crime

The state representative for Martha’s Vineyard said the Patriot Front signs were “clearly an attack” on the beach town popular among Black families.

Several people walk past two businesses in Dockside Marina in Oak Bluffs, a beach town on Martha's Vineyard.
The beach town of Oak Bluffs, located on Martha’s Vineyard, pictured on Sept. 23, 2022. Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe

Four signs that promoted a white supremacist group are under investigation in Oak Bluffs, a beach community in Martha’s Vineyard historically popular among Black families. 

The Oak Bluffs police department posted photos on Facebook Sunday of two Patriot Front signs and asked the community to come forward with information on who posted the signs overnight. The signs shared on social media read “Strong Families, strong nations” and “America first,” and included the group’s name. The signs appeared to be painted in red and blue colors using stencils. 

The organization featured on the signs is a Texas-based white nationalist and fascist group. According to anti-hate group American Defense League, the Patriot Front believes that “their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it to them, and no one else.”

The group spreads its white supremacist ideas via banners and posters — like the ones in Oak Bluffs — and even “flash demonstrations.” In these surprise marches, the group will sometimes ignite smoke bombs or try other similar attention-grabbing tactics. 

Of the more than 150 members in the organization, around 20 are located across New England — the group is also one of the most active hate groups in the region, The Boston Globe reports. 

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, police said they still did not know who put the posters up, and it isn’t immediately clear if charges can and will be brought against the individuals who posted the signs around town. The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office would not comment on the investigation.

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, a Democrat who represents Martha’s Vineyard and surrounding communities, said the placement of the signage was “clearly an attack on Oak Bluffs as one of America’s historic vacation destinations for Black people.” In a statement, he also called the individuals who performed the stunt “small-minded” and “cowards.” 

The investigation into these signs comes at a time when white supremacist groups and the spread of their propaganda are on the rise across the country, and even in the more progressive pockets of New England. Patriot Front members marched in the streets of Boston just last year, banging drums along the Freedom Trail and reportedly assaulting a Black musician named Charles M. Murrell III, who has since sued the group.


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