The Cape and Islands District Attorney and the local Tisbury Police Department will not be bringing charges after a man brought a sign with a swastika to a demonstration in Tisbury on Sunday.
Last week, Tisbury Police released a statement and a completed police report, saying that their investigation had wrapped up, and officers found there was no crime.
The incident occurred on Sunday at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, at 12:07 pm. The report states that a man identified as Christian Quebec brought the sign — which displayed an image signifying anti-Semitism — to where demonstrators were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Police say that within a minute, protesters approached Quebec, and one identified as Natalie Kais destroyed the sign.
The police did not offer insight into why Quebec brought the sign to the demonstration, but Quebec has since sent a letter to The MV Times explaining his decision, seen in today’s editorial section.
The report states that after the incident, Kais told officers that she thought it was legal to destroy the sign because she thought the sign was a hate crime.
“[Officers] advised her that this [sign] did not meet the standard of a hate crime, and Quebec has the right to express his beliefs as [long] as he does not incite the group,” the police report states.
Tisbury Police Sergeant Ed St. Pierre was the reporting officer.
“The simple display of a flag, sign, or symbol is deemed protected speech via the First Amendment, and without a criminal act accompanying the display, is not considered a hate crime,” a press release issued by the department on Tuesday states.
Police say that taking and destroying the sign could be considered assault and malicious destruction of property, but Quebec declined to press charges of assault.
Quebec also told police that he did not want to participate in the protest, and wanted to leave the area. “I [told Quebec that he was] free to leave, and if he decides to protest, he can do so at an alternate location across the street, and not in the middle of [the protest] group,” the report states. Quebec then left the area, and did not return.
The police department’s report was then sent to Cape and Islands District Attorney Rob Galibois. The D.A. told The Times Tuesday morning that his office had declined to investigate.
“While [this] exercise of free speech is abhorrent, no crime was committed,” Galibois said. Galibois added that if new, relevant information comes up, his office would be obligated to review it.
The Tisbury Police report also states that the D.A. agreed with their assessment that a hate crime did not occur.
Police also say that David Mintz, the protest organizer, told Tisbury Police shortly after the protest that he had received texts from an unknown number. The texts to Mintz included a photo of the swastika being held up at the protest, and texts accusing Mintz of supporting the display of the swastika. “Maybe you should move to Iran with your views and see how that goes?” the text read.
Mintz did not want police to take any action.