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Protestors turn out against white supremacist activity in Nashua

Sonrisa O’Toole holds a sign at a rally in downtown Nashua this Saturday. “We can’t fight racism on our own; we have to do it as a community,” she said.
Gaby Lozada
Sonrisa O’Toole holds a sign at a rally in downtown Nashua this Saturday. “We can’t fight racism on our own; we have to do it as a community,” she said.

In the wake of recent racist demonstrations in Nashua, advocates, politicians, and community members organized a rally to spread one message: hate is not welcome in the city.

Around 50 people gathered this weekend in downtown Nashua to rally against racist groups that have appeared sporadically in the city and elsewhere in the state.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess welcomed the protestors, and said the city is concerned after a white supremacist group of around 15 people marched last week, handing out flyers with messages attacking immigrants.

“Nashua is a loving city; hate has no place here,” he said.

Among the participants, there were people who lived abroad for many years and came to defend diversity.

Sonrisa O’Toole is an American who grew up in Honduras. She has good memories of that country, so when she saw a flyer circulating in Nashua with hate messages against a Honduran immigrant, she felt angry.

She learned about the flyer after someone from Honduras showed it to her.

“This person told me that maybe he shouldn’t be open about where he is from. He is concerned, and that’s not fair,” said O'Toole.

She said her immigrant friends are reluctant to come to rallies because some don’t feel safe, especially if they are undocumented.

Eduardo Vargas is from the Dominican Republic. He and his husband learned about the flyers from their Unitarian church newsletter and decided to come with his son to protest what they see as a growing trend of discriminatory actions against immigrants.
Gaby Lozada
Eduardo Vargas is from the Dominican Republic. He and his husband learned about the flyers from their Unitarian church newsletter and decided to come with his son to protest what they see as a growing trend of discriminatory actions against immigrants.

Eduardo Vargas and his husband don’t think New Hampshire is a racist state but recognize that hate and homophobia are growing in certain areas.

“We avoid those areas; we don’t want our child to be surrounded by that,” he said.

Vargas says referring to all Latinos as “Mexicans” is the number one misconception he has encountered.

“Simple things like that add up,” he said. “But I don’t feel worried because there are more like us than there are like them.”

Protestors chanted in Spanish and English about standing united to fight discrimination. They also sang.

Maria Perez, a Latina state representative, organized the rally after people asked her about the Hispanic community's response.

“We need to show them our community is unified,” she said.

Perez thinks more elected officials should be raising their voices about hate groups and said more must be done at the state level to protect immigrants and other minorities.

Ben Bacote drove from the White Mountains to Nashua to be part of the rally. “When one part of the state is attacked, all the community should show up,” he said.
Gaby Lozada
Ben Bacote drove from the White Mountains to Nashua to be part of the rally. “When one part of the state is attacked, all the community should show up,” he said.

Ben Bacote says he has felt racism in the health industry, where he feels people treat him differently as a Black man. He was angered by the recent events he saw on Facebook. He came to the rally with one goal: “Resisting the influence of a minority that is becoming very loud,” he said.

Bacote said that it seems some hate groups have circled New Hampshire as a battleground state. “That’s unacceptable to me,” he said.

Advocates said they plan to hold other rallies protesting the influence of the Proud Boys in Manchester.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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