Oak Bluffs Police on lookout for white supremacists – The Martha’s Vineyard Times

Update, September 5

The Oak Bluffs Police Department is searching for whoever put up signs supporting white nationalists.

The two signs shown on the department’s online post — one reading “strong families strong nations” and the other reading “America first” — have links to the white supremacist group Patriot Front. On the Patriot Front’s website, the group packages its messaging with patriotic and revolutionary themes — much of it containing seditious language — but it also makes clear that the organization only considers those with European ancestry as Americans.

Oak Bluffs Police Chief Jonathan Searle said three signs were noticed in the town on Sunday and have since been taken down.

These signs were located where Dukes County Avenue and Siloam Avenue meet and close to Biscuits and Eleven Circuit Avenue Restaurant and Bar — both of which are black-owned businesses. On Tuesday, Searle told The Times a fourth sign was found at Circuit Avenue Extension.

The police are investigating who was responsible for putting up the signs.

“There is an active and thorough investigation,” Searle said, adding that the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office will be consulted to determine if any laws have been violated.

Those with information can contact the Oak Bluffs Police Department at 508-693-0750 or through Facebook Messenger.

Oak Bluffs is also a town steeped in African American history and was once listed in the Green Book, which listed vacation locations that were relatively safe to African Americans from 1936 to 1967.

Islander Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, who reported the Patriot Front sign on a telephone pole in front of Eleven Circuit Avenue Restaurant and Bar, said he was dissatisfied with the police’s response. He also sent a letter to Searle, Cape and Islands District Attorney Rob Galibois, and Oak Bluffs Select Board chair Emma Green-Beach about the response.

Hardy-Doubleday said he immediately reported the sign to the Oak Bluffs Police Department after seeing it. However, he was told by Oak Bluffs Police Sgt. Christopher Wiggin that the sign would need to be taken down on Tuesday because it was too high up and a ladder would be needed from another department. Hardy-Doubleday alleges that he was told he could take the sign down himself if he wanted to. Hardy-Doubleday tried to reach out to friends for help until Todd Rebello, who happened to be walking by, knocked down the sign after getting a ladder.

Hardy-Doubleday said he was contacted by Galibois on Facebook Messenger and received a call from Green-Beach regarding the sign after he posted it on Facebook; the District Attorney stated that Massachusetts State Police will get involved.

Hardy-Doubleday later retrieved the sign, which he had thrown away, and brought it to the Oak Bluffs Police Department. He spoke with a summer officer and submitted a voluntary witness statement in writing and handed over the sign.

“There was no one with a badge who was talking with me,” he said.

Hardy-Doubleday said the response was unacceptable and taking down a hate group’s sign cannot wait. He further alleges that Oak Bluffs Police prioritized policing black people more than tackling issues like the signs.

“I want the culture of that department to change,” Hardy-Doubleday said, later adding, “This isn’t rocket science. This is priority.”

Searle said on Tuesday that Wiggin had taken down the signs that he could and had contacted the Oak Bluffs Highway Department, but nobody was available during Labor Day weekend.

Additionally, Searle said state police were not part of the investigation, although they have been advised about the situation and a specialty unit could be involved if needed.

Searle declined to comment on Hardy-Doubleday’s letter. However, Searle said Oak Bluffs Police will continue to keep the town safe as members of its community.

Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Danielle Whitney declined to comment since an investigation is underway. An online post from the District Attorney states that all of the police chiefs on the Cape and Islands and the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit have been notified about the signs in Oak Bluffs.

“If you observe any of these signs on public property or private property without the owner’s permission then please notify your local police department,” the post reads.

Green-Beach said the signs were gone by the time she went downtown on Sunday. She underscored during a phone interview on Tuesday that the signs’ messaging were not something rooted in Oak Bluffs.

“Oak Bluffs is a place where everyone is welcome,” Green-Beach said. “We won’t tolerate hate in our town, in our community.”

Updated with additional information from Jonathan Searle, Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, Emma Green-Beach, and Danielle Whitney.

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