Racial tensions are rising in the Hartford County town of Rocky Hill, Conn., where tiny pieces of paper bearing the slogan “Black Crimes Matter” blanketed the community and prompted a community “anti-racism” meeting.
The flyers were dropped on residents’ lawns and sidewalks after video emerged of a local white man being brutally beaten by a group of young black men who were attempting to steal his Infiniti Q50 sedan.
The attack, which took place on April 10, was caught on a now-viral video shot from a Ring doorbell camera in broad daylight.
Car theft thwarted after man fends off four suspects in driveway
A Ring doorbell camera has captured the moment a man fought four suspects in an attempted car theft in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.Source: TMX pic.twitter.com/sxMLJpLTLq
— 1776 (@TheWakeninq) April 16, 2023
The attackers were “three younger in age black males and one younger in age white/Hispanic male,” Rocky Hill Police Department (RHPD) Sgt. Jeffrey Foss-Rugan said, according to The Harford Courant.
Three days later, the RHPD was receiving dozens of calls from residents who discovered the flyers, some of which read, “Defend White Communities,” scattered across their properties. They “also promote a Neo-Nazi group, which has chapters throughout New England,” according to NBC CT.
“This is not reflective of this town,” resident Douglas Russell told the outlet. “This surprises me that this would be going on because it’s not what Rocky Hill is about.”
(Video: NBC CT)
Foss-Rugan echoed Russell’s surprise.
“These are instigators coming into town trying to cause a problem that’s not there,” he said. “We’re a very diverse and inclusive community that have strong values. I believe that’s why people are so concerned and received so many calls.”
While authorities advised residents to throw the pieces of paper away, Corrie Betts, Chairman of Connecticut’s NAACP, urged them to report the flyers to the state’s Hate Crimes Advisory Council.
“We analyze, collect data, look for programming and really look to educate communities on what hate crimes are right, because a lot of people don’t know, like, even this, you know, having flyers, that’s a hate crime,” Betts said.
Valerie Triblets, a member of the Racial Justice Steering Committee at the Rocky Hill Congregational Church, said the attempted car theft and the flyers are clearly connected, The Courant reports.
“They were distributed generally in the same neighborhood as the assault, Valley View Drive,” she explained.
While no one seems to know how they managed to dump so many of the fortune-cookie-sized leaflets around the town, the group responsible for doing it is the New England Nationalist Social Club or NSC-131, according to The Courant, which cites “several news reports from around the state.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls the “Club” a “neo-Nazi group based in New England whose activities consist of staging protests and distributing hate literature.”
“Its leader, Christopher Hood, and many of its members have faced criminal charges, in some cases related to their racist activism,” SPLC states on its website. “The group rose to prominence on a national level after some of its members bragged about attending the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the group “espouses racism, antisemitism and intolerance via the Internet, propaganda distributions and the use of graffiti.”
The flyers, The Courant states, are “propaganda” used in an attempt to recruit new members.
In response to the unconventional distribution of the flyers, the Rocky Hill Commission on Inclusion and Innovation called on the community to participate in a Wednesday anti-racism meeting.
In a statement posted on April 20, the commission wrote, “Sadly, the darkness of hate reared its ugly head in Rocky Hill last week, and we call on all of our residents to respond with kindness and unity.”
“Take the time to reach out to your neighbors and let them know you care about them,” it continued. “Speak words of support and compassion for all members of our community.”
Additionally, “A rally will be held, titled ‘Unite Against White Supremacy in Connecticut,’ on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the CREC Academy of Aerospace & Engineering Elementary, at 7 Gardner Way in Rocky Hill,” The Courant reports.
In a Wednesday statement, Rocky Hill Police said they are actively investigating the flyers.
“This case has been assigned to the RHPD detective division for further investigation to determine if a criminal violation occurred,” the department said. “We encourage our residents to call and report any reoccurrence of similar incidents so we can investigate any further distribution.”
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