Town officials seek unification against bigotry

A draftee of a letter to be sent across the Island says she is shocked by the lack of a united stance against the hate messaging.

Some Islanders are criticizing officials for not taking a stronger public rebuke against Patriot Front signs placed in Oak Bluffs earlier this month. —Courtesy Oak Bluffs Police Department

After signs supporting neofascist, white nationalist group Patriot Front were posted on Oak Bluffs’ Circuit Avenue early this month, Oak Bluffs Select Board Chair Emma Green-Beach and Aquinnah Select Board member Juli Vanderhoop are drafting a letter rebuking bigotry, to be sent to Island agencies for co-signing as a joint statement.

Signatures will be sought from each Vineyard select board, town administrator, police chief, and fire chief.

The signs, posted in Oak Bluffs where Dukes County Avenue and Siloam Avenue meet, were near Black-owned restaurants Biscuits and Eleven Circuit. Oak Bluffs has also long served as a haven and popular summer spot for African Americans. 

“We’re working on a letter … to say that we want people to run businesses, that their owners and their customers deserve to be safe, and that we will not tolerate things like this,” Vanderhoop said at a recent Aquinnah Select Board meeting. “We just want to make an Island-wide statement to address these issues.”

Vanderhoop says the letter is currently only a draft, and that it will take time to circulate to Island officials for signatures. She says that the message is currently supported by Aquinnah’s whole select board, town administrator, police sergeant, and fire department chief, all of whom were at Tuesday’s meeting.

The letter’s goal will be to show a unified front. “I’m coming up with a letter with police, fire, and select board that we’ll not stand for nonresponse on written attacks that are racially motivated here — I hope not in Massachusetts — but hopefully not on Martha’s Vineyard,” says Vanderhoop.

Though Vanderhoop does not have in mind a specific action she would have liked to see from officials after the incident, she sees the letter as covering a timely need for an official response.

“Once it was on national news, I was a little shocked that there was no stand taken by any authorities on the Vineyard. I just want to see more action, to be progressive,” she says.

Vanderhoop sees the signage as targeted, and was disturbed personally. “I’m pretty much outraged now about the feeling some people have racially on this Island that they felt they could put something offensive on any minority-owned business, targeted racially,” says Vanderhoop.

At the board meeting, Vanderhoop also inquired about the status of town bylaws against hate. Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison confirmed that his town has none. Vanderhoop has asked other boards about looking into the matter. “These are hard times, you know? We should be prepared for these kinds of attacks, unfortunately,” she says.


  1. I’m extremely disappointed that you would choose to print the sign. That’s tantamount to an endorsement, despite the language of the article. Please edit the sign out.

    • I don’t think it approaches an endorsement. Sometimes news is visual. Showing the community what’s going on is part of the job. I would rather see for myself than read a description of this or any other sign. Descriptions can be incomplete and, at times, subjective.

    • That’s ridiculous. They are reporting news. You fight racism and fascism by calling it out and shining a light on it. Nothing is ever solved by covering it up.

    • Polly– I fully understand your point. But I think that
      we need to be transparent and open to debate.
      i checked these people out– They are racist pigs.
      Ok– This is America– you are allowed to be a racist pig.
      But, I have educated myself about the reasons they hate.
      If any of these cowardly pigs would care to have an
      open conversation, I would be the first to tear them
      a new anal orifice. But you can’t do that by denying their
      existence. They flourish in the dark recesses of their
      fetid swamp. They will wither in the light of inclusiveness.
      I know the maggots that put these signs up are reading
      Come on, piggies— take your chin diaper off, and debate
      me. Perhaps you can convince me to become a white supremacist.
      I am white after all.

      Too cowardly to do it publicly ?

  2. I mean, a letter is all well and good, but it’s like on a college campus, and the idea of the response to, “be more progressive” what exactly is that? To hold “progressive” political views? Have decency doesn’t make one a political progressive or (necessarily) a political conservative. Maybe it was just a bad choice of words. But it just seems like another toothless display that doesn’t say anything about the Vineyard on a “national” level. I mean, by-laws are actually something worth doing. And the reaction of the OB police department should have been swift and conveyed a 100% message of outrage. Because these messages from a tiny minority of our population is an outrage and shouldn’t be tolerated. But when the best response is to draft a letter. I mean, you can draft a letter against prejudice and white supremacy, yay, wow, you’re making change you want to see in the world?

  3. The town owes its citizens a response to a bold example of attempted intimidation. To remain silent sends the message that the intimidation worked. Massive respect for two brave women; Emma Green-Beach and Julie Vanderhoop for standing up and speaking out.

  4. Too sad, the number of Islanders who commented on Facebook when the news first appeared there, thinking that the First Amendment should come into play — or worse, repeating the words of the sign and asking “What’s wrong with that?” That’s how we disappear into this morass, into this cult, as it were. Sadly, we must all learn to weigh words and investigate the origin of them before we automatically back them. Studying up on pre-WW II Germany might help. And I’m not being hyperbolic. When the ordinary German people ignored the Nazis, the holocaust happened; Hitler happened. While we can still educate our children, they should be educated.

      • No Hess, I just take them down and put them on the ground face down so no one sees them. Just as you would mark up or remove MAGA posters on lampposts. By the way, my comment was a “”hess type comment””

        • andy–interesting that you admit doing
          this vandalism, violation of free speech,
          littering and whatever else we might
          consider taking a BLM poster down,
          and then, without any awareness of the irony
          accuse someone of wanting to do a similar
          act of vandalism.

          • Keller I do it under cover of night when no one sees me so its not vandalism if no one sees me. Just like the tree in the forest falling that no one can hear if they are not there. I am certain you would remove a MAGA sign with a large picture of orange man.

      • Patterson I would agree with you if BLM represented blacks. They do not.
        More than crime. More than accidents. More than cancer, heart disease and AIDS. Abortion has taken more Black American lives than every other cause of death combined since 1973. In the United States, the abortion rate for Black women is more than 3 times that of White women. On average, more than 900 Black babies are aborted every day in our country. This tragedy continues to impact the population levels of African-Americans in the United States. BLM doesn’t care about this at all and is corrupt.

  5. Considering the sheer number of MCAD human rights lawsuits a certain police dept has generated, costing hundreds of thousands of public dollars, I trust this new found concern for “unification against bigotry” will include some police retraining?

    • Considering the sheer number of James Kozak’s negative comments about a certain police department, makes me wonder if has had significant interaction.

  6. Darn! If we only knew a letter signed by town officials would end bigotry we could have done this years ago! That’ll put those White Supremacists in their place, if they’re actually the ones who put up the signs.

    • John– It’s quite clear that the people who
      put these up are FBI agents getting paid
      by George Soros. I already have the 110%
      irrefutable evidence that this is true. It’s right
      under my pillow, and I will be making a
      really bigly announcement and reveal the truth
      sometime soon.

  7. I’m glad to see what the poster looks like, confirming how tasteless, artistically untalented, and ignorant these antisemitic, white suprematists are. The layout, stupid use of space for stenciled lettering, and the attempt to copy Nazi propaganda by using a firm-jawed, unsmiling white family trying to appear ideal, strong, and appealing is actually pretty funny considering how flabby, slack-jawed, bald, sloppy, and dopey looking American white suprematists are in person. The males all wear beards to hide their chinless face. The poster makers tried to copy Nazi propaganda art, but coudn’t even manage that, the morons. And yes, it’s perfectly legal to be a racist, antisemitic pig.

  8. Polly Brown, I agree with you. Posting the photo has created devisiveness and likely attracted more racists. The last thing the postering folks want is to be ignored, and now the Times has given them a platform.

    • Posting the photo “has created divisiveness”? Really? Really?? Remember how Black people were called “divisive” for calling attention to racism, and women were called “divisive” for calling attention to sexism and misogyny, and so on and on and on? Ignoring hatred never ever made hatred go away.

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