LOWELL, MA – Officials at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell are frustrated “that they cannot legally ban all hate messages from our lives” but have vowed to investigate “the threats against members of the campus community “, according to a letter sent to students and faculty last week.
“For decades, colleges and universities, and particularly in recent years, have seen an increase in hate messages both from the communities on their campuses as well as from organizations and individuals who visit campus expressly to promote hatred and division knowing that the law and the First Amendment limit universities ‘legal capacity to prevent it,’ the letter from the university’s executive cabinet reads. “Indeed, for many members of these hate groups, the attention generated by attempted bans or efforts to sanction or punish them is what they seek most.”
Thursday’s letter came nine days after Patch reported an online broadcast by members of NSC-131, a Massachusetts-based hate group that included Liam McNeil, a UMass-Lowell student who graduated from Waltham High School in 2018.
“If you’re in college, you should get together with all the other like-minded guys and start circling fraternity parties and bullying kids who mingle,” said Chris Hood, who founded NSC- 131 in 2019, said in one of three clips posted by a Waltham-based anti-hate group. “Just start dominating the parties, take control of the campus. Same policies as here, just on campus with the kids.”
Hood commented on Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging platform. The videos were posted to Twitter by Waltham Night’s Watch, a group that claims to document “hate groups, hate crimes and far-right activity in Waltham.”
“We’re pretty much a fraternity, just racist,” McNeil said of NSC-131. “If you are going to start a fraternity, we suggest the name Kappa, Kappa, Kappa.”
Last week’s letter from UMass-Lowell leaders did not mention any students or groups by name, but promised that the school would “fully investigate” every report of hate speech, crime and actions or speech that violate the code of conduct of the students of the school.
“While we cannot comment on individual surveys, we can assure you that we will hold all students accountable for our Code of Student Conduct which has been designed to make UML a place where everyone can live, learn and work in a safe and inclusive environment, ”the executive cabinet said. “We share your deep frustration at not being able to legally ban all hate messages from our lives and it is in these moments that we are called to embody the values we claim as our heart.”
NSC stands for “Nationalist Social Club,” according to the Anti-Defamation League, and 131 is the alphanumeric code for ACA, or Anti-Communist Action. There are chapters in the United States and France, Hungary and Germany. Members of the group participated in the January 6 Capitol Riot in Washington, DC
The group rebranded itself as Nationalist Social Club in early 2020 and expanded in May 2020 when the white supremacist Legion of St. Ambrose collapsed and many of its members joined NSC-131. Since then, according to ADL, the group has added chapters in Florida, Kentucky, Texas and Virginia. The ADL said it has also identified members in Arizona, Indiana, New Hampshire and New York.
The nonprofit Counter Extremism Project claims the NSC-131 is a “decentralized, leaderless organization” and lists Hood, previously de Malden, as its “alleged founder.” During the January 6 riot, screenshots from Telegram, the encrypted messaging app that NSC-131 uses to communicate, showed members holding up the group’s logo outside the Capitol.
“Known tactics of the NSC include hostility from social justice protesters, vandalism, and the display of stickers and other propaganda,” the Counter Extremism Project states in its entry on NSC-131. “Members of the NSC joined right-wing and pro-police rallies where they displayed Nazi flags and symbols, as well as engaged in physical altercations. “