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Trolling Martha's Vineyard: Island residents on the receiving end of abuse over helping migrants

Boston Public Library
Wikimedia Commons; CC2.0 https://bit.ly/3Lv7nMg

Online, by phone, and even by aerial banner, the Vineyard has become a target for threats and angry comments about immigration.

People on Martha’s Vineyard are being trolled and harassed following the flight of migrants to the island last week at the behest of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

State Representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents the island and who has been outspoken in his rebuke of DeSantis, says death threats were left on his office voicemail.

“My poor staff has listened to a lot of the voicemails,” Fernandes said. “Apparently, a couple were threatening, and they reported that to the state police. And the state police, I'm told, said they were looking into it.”

But Fernandes says the threats are nothing compared to the violence the migrants are fleeing.

In Oak Bluffs, the Dockside Inn received several strange calls, says general manager Kevin Lynch-Greenberg.

He described one: “He went, ‘You liberals are getting exposed. The whole world can see what's going on over there now. Like, you can't hide it anymore. You're all a bunch of phonies.’ And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And he went, ‘Yeah, excuse YOU, assclown. Like, soon enough, you'll find out.’ And then he just hung up.”

Among other callers, said Lynch-Greenberg, was a man who suggested more migrants would be coming, if not to the Inn, perhaps more generally to the island. Another employee spoke with that caller, who told her: “‘I have 80 people coming and you guys are, like, obliged to house them.’ And she was like, ‘Sir, we only have 20 rooms, and they're all fully booked.’ And he went, ‘Then we're going to have to set up tents in your yard.’”

A plane flew over the island on Monday pulling a banner that said, “Vineyard Hypocrites!”

And the Reverend Chip Seadale, of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which housed the migrants, says the church has received hate mail.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.