In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court on June 24, growing acts of transphobia and sightings of white supremacist groups in Connecticut and New England have been reported. The Connecticut John Brown Gun Club has emerged as one of the groups most dedicated to combating far-right agitators and protecting vulnerable communities in Connecticut.
“Most of our work at the JBGC involves providing security and community defense, organization and activism with Black Lives Matter, pro-choice groups, and LGBTQIA+ groups. We do work around specific acts of police oppression and sightings of white supremacist or other far right individuals or organizations in New England,” said Dan, a founding member of the Connecticut JBGC.
Dan, due to the group’s frequent confrontations with far right organizations, declined to provide a last name for personal safety.
The organization, originally founded in Washington state in 2017, has spread to many states, including Connecticut in 2020. Members in each state work with each other and other groups, even traveling out of state to help in larger events, but without overarching national leadership. Dan describes how recruitment is often done via word of mouth or cooperation with similarly aligned organizations.
When asked about the presence of far-right groups in New England, such as Patriot Front and Massachusetts-based New England National Socialist Club, Dan suggested they rose in the aftermath of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, which forced many white supremacist groups underground, but now have begun to reemerge.
“Connecticut has had a surprisingly long history of white supremacists. The Ku Klux Klan had thousands of members here in the 1920s, and the state only solved a court case on school integration this year. Policies of segregation still exist here, they just say it is a money issue instead of a race issue. So now that more conservative places are becoming open with their stupid white supremacist ideas, they think they won’t be opposed here,” Dan said.
Dan provided an example of an event on July 2, where over 100 members of the far right group Patriot Front rallied in Boston, according to CNN.
Connecticut JBGC identified members known to them from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Nebraska.
“Patriot Front and subgroups under it makes almost 85% of neo-Nazi propaganda in this country” Dan said. “Unlike what happened in Idaho in June, these guys weren’t arrested in the UHaul. The cops practically escorted them from their cars to the rally spot and back.”
The New England National Socialist Club, or NSC, is what Dan showed greater concern for. He stated leaked messages from their forums showed a greater willingness to commit violent or intimidatory acts. Left wing organizations, according to Dan, identified approximately 40 members in New England.
The group has made headlines after a series of leaflet campaigns in Connecticut, according to Connecticut Public Radio.
“You’ve probably seen their flyers on the road. They’ve been found in some of the northern and central towns in the state. Even if it’s forty guys, it takes one with a few thousand fliers and a truck to frighten people of color and LGBTQ+ people into believing they’re a far larger group. And that’s what they want — they want those people to be scared and leave, since these Neo-Nazis think they’re ‘ruining America,’” Dan explained.
The Connecticut JBGC also provided some basic advice for helping to combat white supremacists in the state, including disposing of leaflets or posters put up by far-right groups, attending protests and counter-protests, and identifying open white supremacists.
“While our job is more to protect protestors from neo-Nazis, if you can pick up the license plate or address or workplace of these people, there are several organizations that compile information on members of hate groups. These people often live otherwise normal lives, and showing an employer their behavior can lead to quick and severe consequences for them,” Dan elaborated.
“Don’t report these things to the police. We’ve seen time and time again these far-right protests are treated much more fairly by the police. Hell, the cops are probably in these groups half the time. That’s why we help to protect people, because it’s clear the cops have no obligation or desire to,” Dan advised.