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NSC 131 -- The Big Bad Bullies of the North East

Updated: May 1, 2023

Growing up, whenever the topic of bullying arose, adults used to say that bullies are often the most insecure people in the room, inflicting pain on others in a misguided attempt to assuage their own suffering. From teachers to TV shows, we were always told that bullies picked on those they saw as weak as a function of feeling weak themselves. So, when I saw a patch reading "Bully Squad" prominently featured in the propaganda videos of neo-Nazi group NSC 131, my mind went straight back to this childhood cliché. The more I study NSC 131, the more I see that the advice has become cliché for a reason.

NSC 131 coalesced in late 2019 as a means of unifying neo-Nazis specifically in New England, claiming that members would fight to ensure that New England remained a haven for White people. In its own words, NSC 131 is 'a pro-white, street-oriented fraternity dedicated to raising AUTHENTIC resistance to the enemies of our people in the New England area. This takes the form of networking, training, activism, outreach, and above all, ACTION.' The group uses an array of fringe social media platforms and old-school flyering campaigns to recruit. The exact size of the group is hard to gauge -- membership is limited to men living in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, for one. That said, it's got a few thousand followers on Gab and on Telegram, as well as a few hundred subscribers on Odysee.

(spotted by me, on the streets of Cambridge, MA)

From what they post online, it appears that their schtick -- their 'ACTION' -- consists largely of having groups of men dressed in khakis, black shirts, black balaclavas, and sunglasses show up en masse to march around, hold up signs, and yell white power slogans and slurs at people. What's most fascinating, though, are the places they choose to protest and the methods they use. These choices scream 'bully' even louder than the patches they wear.

NSC 131 consistently protests 'Drag Queen story times.' They have posted several videos boasting about how their shows of force have shut down these events early or cancelled them outright. In one case, a video shows them standing in the background -- uniformed, arms folded -- alongside police officers as a drag queen is reading a story to some children sat on a colourful rug in a public library, before organizers decide to end the event for security reasons. Outside, homophobic slurs are yelled and a banner is unfurled that denounces drag queens as pedophiles (a common refrain for NSC 131). In further attacks on bibliophiles, the group also scared a worker at an anarchist book fair to the point that they hid indoors, threw bricks through windows of book purveyors, and pounded on the doors of a bookstore event discussing communism. They also showed up at a New England high school screaming about critical race theory and anti-white bias.

In addition standing on street corners holding banners emblazoned with 'pro-white' slogans, NSC 131's other staple action is the 'banner drop.' Countless photos and videos capture them on overpasses holding signs that read things such as 'Jews did 9/11,' 'Keep New England White,' and 'Race Mixing is White Genocide.' In fact, their antics dropping banners has led to legal trouble for some members, while also affording the group the opportunity to fundraise over $10,000 for legal defense fees.

Meanwhile, NSC 131 is also more than happy to show up at hospitals to target doctors they feel promote anti-white medical research, to post fliers identifying someone as a local pedophile, or to criticize a drag queen set to perform. However, should someone be publicly accused of being a member of NSC 131, the group bemoans harassment and vows to settle the score, trolling the accuser for daring to call them out. And, when questioned about their decision to wear masks and hide their identities, they have an interesting justification. After saying that these men are 'employers, land owners, supervisors, leaders. They have wives and children. They are pillars of their communities and so many people, maybe even you, are relying on them. These men have much to lose,' NSC 131 then claims that they wear masks not to protect themselves, but actually to protect the public. The story goes, if doxxed and shunned by mainstream society, they would only lash out even more.

When I analyze these events and these methods, what strikes me how much the 'bully' term fits. To be sure, to an onlooker the sight of 20+ men in balaclavas yelling slurs and/or holding up racist signs can be extremely frightening; it's meant to look and feel that way. However, taking a step back, think about the venues NSC 131 selects. Libraries, highway overpasses, high schools, bookstores. Even in situations where people seem to make a confrontational stand against the group, NSC 131 swarms, not trusting an individual member to handle the perceived threat. Add to this that NSC 131 appears to almost constantly act where there is a police presence assigned to keep the peace.

All of these actions are those of bullies. NSC 131 members organize under the principles that racial/ethnic/religious diversity threatens them, as white men. In their own words, they are afraid for/of the future.

There was a lot of advice on how to handle bullies amidst the moralizing I heard growing up, anything from walking away to confronting them with a quick rejoinder. In the end, the ultimate goal was to not give the bully what they wanted without becoming a bully in return. No matter the approach, the first steps are to recognize the bully, to know that they are the problem, not you, and to see them for what they really are -- by doing that, they lose power over you. Although none of the advice I heard specifically mentioned how to handle neo-Nazi bullies, I think, the advice still rings true here. So, I say: NSC 131, I see you...we see you, for what you actually are.

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