It was a deeply unsettling sight, as was surely intended. Two days before the Fourth of July, about 100 white supremacists, their faces covered, marched through the heart of Boston with riot shields, at one point brawling with a Black man.
The brazen demonstration, an apparent declaration of strength, heightened fears that white nationalist ideology had taken hold in Massachusetts, widely considered a progressive bastion, and that the national surge of extremism during the Trump administration had arrived here with troubling force.
But white supremacist movements have deep roots in Massachusetts and New England, historians said. While the displays of propaganda are shockingly hateful and vile, they are far from new.