Lawsuit Aims to 'Decimate' Hate Group

Black man says he was attacked by Patriot Front members in Boston last year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 8, 2023 2:35 PM CDT
Lawsuit Aims to 'Decimate' Hate Group
Members group bearing insignias of the white supremacist Patriot Front shove Charles Murrell with metal shields during a march through Boston on Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

A Black teacher and musician who says members of a white nationalist hate group punched, kicked, and beat him with metal shields during a march through Boston last year sued the organization on Tuesday. Charles Murrell III, of Boston, was in the area of the Boston Public Library to play his saxophone on July 2, 2022, when he was surrounded by members of the Patriot Front and assaulted in a "coordinated, brutal, and racially motivated attack," according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston. Murrell was taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment of lacerations, some of which required stitches, the suit says.

"As a result of this beating, Mr. Murrell sustained physical injuries to his face, head, and hand, all of which required medical attention. Mr. Murrell also continues to suffer significant emotional distress to this day as a result of the incident," the suit says. "Among other harms, those physical and emotional injuries have adversely affected Mr. Murrell's ability to earn a living as a musician." He has "been plagued by severe anxiety, mental anguish, invasive thoughts, and emotional distress" and "routinely has nightmares and flashbacks," according to the suit. No one has been charged in connection with the attack on Murrell, 36, and the investigation remains open, according to a spokesperson for the Suffolk district attorney's office.

The defendants are Patriot Front, its founder Thomas Rousseau, and multiple John Does. Murrell, who has a background teaching special education, tells the AP that the lawsuit is about holding Patriot Front accountable, helping his own healing process, and preventing anything similar from happening to children of color, like those he teaches. The march in Boston by about 100 members of the Texas-based Patriot Front was one of its so-called flash demonstrations that it holds around the country. Murrell says he had never heard of the group before the confrontation, but believes he was targeted because of the tone of their voices and the slurs they used when he encountered them.

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The goal of the lawsuit is not just justice and accountability, said Licha Nyiendo, the chief legal officer at Human Rights First, which is backing Murrell in the lawsuit, but to bankrupt Patriot Front. "Our goal is to decimate this extremist group," she says, "and bring a national spotlight to the dangers of their extremist ideology."

(More white supremacists stories.)

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