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White supremacist group gathering in Boston was "act of intimidation," ADL Director says

Man says he was assaulted by members of white supremacist group in Boston
Man says he was assaulted by members of white supremacist group in Boston 02:38

BOSTON -- Boston Mayor Michelle Wu took a moment Monday morning to comment on a white supremacist group seen in Boston over the weekend.

"I want to note that just a few days ago we were interrupted in our celebrations by a hateful group that descended on Boston -- a white nationalist, a white supremacist group from outside our city who choose to try and co-opt this birthplace of democracy," she said before the Fourth of July parade began. 

"We wholeheartedly and overwhelmingly reject your message of hate, your discretion of the American flag that you carry -- it is this display that we hold up as the birthplace of America that everyone has the right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and we will fight every day to make sure that that mission for freedom for every single human being is complete," Wu continued.

Also on Monday, a 34-year-old Black man who accuses members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front of assaulting him in downtown Boston broke his silence. Charles Murrell attended a press conference held by the New Democracy Coalition.

Boston police said they responded to the intersection of Dartmouth and Stuart streets on Saturday for a report of an assault. Upon arrival, police say the caller at first did not want to speak with officers on the scene and had sustained lacerations to his right ring finger, head, and left eyebrow. He was later transported to Tufts Medical Center for stitches.  

The caller told police that he was walking down Dartmouth Street when he was shoved by a group of men with shields and masks. He reported that he swung his arm to separate himself from the group when a larger group of men knocked him down and continued to hit and kick him. 

"I've always used art as a means of resistance," Murrell, who describes himself as a street artist, said at the press conference. He sang "Another Man Done Gone," a traditional African American spiritual, and declined to share more details about the incident until he retains an attorney.

The incident has now been referred to the Boston Police Department's Civil Rights Division.

According to ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan, more than 100 people from the Patriot Front group gathered in Downtown Boston.

"People are characterizing it as a protest but I think we need to take a look at everything that we saw and heard which really has all of the indicators of an act of defiance, an act of intimidation," Trestan said. 

They were masked and wearing "Reclaim America" shirts. Some of the men carried police shields and flags. 

"For the most part, nobody knew that this was going to happen, that is an indicator to us and I think to communities and law enforcement that they are very well organized, that the group is willing to travel," said Trestan. 

The Anti-Defamation League of New England reported that the alleged leader of the group, Thomas Rousseau, gave a speech in Boston. He was arrested earlier this month near a Pride event in Idaho.  

Many people came into Boston from out of state. The group like to have demonstrations around patriotic holidays. Trestan said the choices to meet in Boston during the July 4th weekend are no coincidence. 

But this isn't the first time the group has visited the city. According to City Councilor Ed Flynn, they've been here multiple times in the last year. 

"They're here to divide the residents, to spread hate," said Flynn. He said Boston Police have a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the group and he hopes members will be prosecuted. 

Trestan said, "They don't just hide their faces behind those masks, they're actually hiding their anti-semitism, their racism, their white supremacy. All of that is hidden behind not just the mask, but a mask pretending that it's around patriotism." 

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