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Veterans group says white supremacist signs in Oak Bluffs need to be treated as hate crime

A hate sign linked with white supremacist group Patriot Front was placed in Oak Bluffs earlier this month.
Courtesy Oak Bluffs Police Department
A hate sign linked with white supremacist group Patriot Front was placed in Oak Bluffs earlier this month.

The placement of white supremacist signs near Black-owned businesses on Oak Bluffs should be treated as a hate crime.

That’s according to Task Force Butler, a research group made up of veterans.

Task Force Butler tracks hate groups that operate throughout the United States, including Patriot Front, the one whose signs were found on the Vineyard last week.

Kristofer Goldsmith is Task Force Butler’s founder and CEO.

He said local law enforcement needs to investigate these incidents as hate crimes.

"They need to think deeper about what’s actually going on here and protect these communities. That is their job. They swear an oath to the constitution and to protect their communities, and they are failing to uphold that oath when they look at this is as ‘Oh, this is an issue of property discussion.' Or, 'this is an issue of free speech.’"

When asked if the signs on Oak Bluffs were being investigated as a hate crime, the Cape and Islands DA office said they are working with local police to identify the individuals involved, but cannot comment on the investigation.

Goldsmith says that federal support is available for communities in the aftermath of hate crimes.

He said there’s a non-law enforcement arm of the Department of Justice called the Community Relations Service that can help people respond to hate crimes.

“They help them interact with police and law enforcement more broadly in a more productive manner and can help local communities protect themselves from these criminal gangs like Patriot Front."

The Task Force is putting out a resource guide with more details this month.

The Oak Bluffs Police Department said that the signs have all been removed and a suspect has not yet been identified in connection to the hate signs.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.