The New Hampshire attorney general’s office filed a civil rights lawsuit against a neo-Nazi group on Wednesday alleging it disrupted a drag story hour at a café in June.
Attorney General John Formella filed the complaint against 19 unnamed members of the New England neo-Nazi group NSC-131, which stands for Nationalist Social Club, and their leader, Christopher Hood, 25, accusing them of violating the state’s anti-discrimination laws for trying to stop the café’s drag story hour through acts of intimidation.
The event, where drag queens read children’s books to kids, took place during Pride Month at Teatotaller, an LGBTQ-owned coffee shop in Concord, the state’s capital. A viral video posted by Juicy Garland, the drag queen hosting the event, shows the group of neo-Nazis wearing masks, sunglasses, baseball caps and matching shirts and pants, shouting, raising their right arms in unison and banging on the coffee shop’s windows.
“Acts of hate designed to terrorize an individual or business into violating our State’s antidiscrimination laws are simply wrong and will not be tolerated,” Formella said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will continue to enforce the State’s antidiscrimination laws to the greatest extent possible to ensure that people of all backgrounds can live free from discrimination, fear, and intimidation because of who they are.”
William E. Gens, an attorney for Hood, said he has not yet read the complaint but summed it up to “virtue signaling” by Formella.
“This attorney general has a rather narrow view of free speech and he’s lost and he’s going to try it again,” Gens said, referring to a similar complaint the attorney general filed against Hood in January that was later dismissed. “Maybe he thinks he’ll find a judge that thinks like he does. I hope not, not just for Chris Hood’s sake but for all our sakes.”
If Hood and the 19 unnamed men are found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, they can face a $10,000 penalty, according to a news releaseissued by the attorney general’s office on Wednesday.
Emmett Soldati, the coffee shop’s owner, applauded the attorney general’s complaint, saying that it “sends a very strong message” of support to the state’s LGBTQ people.
“Though we have kind of gone on largely focusing on selling bubbletea and lattes and hosting shows since June, that this is still important to the attorney general’s office and to the state of New Hampshire is a demonstration to our community that we belong here,” Soldati said.
In his previous complaint, Formella accused Hood and another NSC-131 member of violating civil rights law when they hung a banner along a New Hampshire highway that read, “Keep New England White.” The charges were dismissed in June.
Gens said that since the case was dismissed, Hood has been “keeping kind of quiet” and paying attention to his newborn child.
Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell’s office also filed a complaint against Hood and the neo-Nazi group last week, accusing them of violating the state’s civil rights laws in a series of incidents between July 2022 and October 2023.
Within the last few years, anti-LGBTQ demonstrations and acts of violence against the community have surged. Demonstrations against drag events and performances have been particularly pronounced.
Between June 1, 2022 and May 20, 2023, there were more than 200 anti-drag incidents across the nation, according to a June report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. The report also found that there were more demonstrations within the first five months of this year than in the last seven months of last year.