White Nationalism Rears Its Ugly Head Again; Rainbow Stickers Obscured With White Nationalist Imagery
In Salem, Mass., vandalism, attacks, and hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have taken place, as most who are aware of the struggles that are encountered by the community at large know. However, when incidents based on vitriol with direct or indirect assaults against marginalized communities occur, they must be countered expediently, vigorously, and with proactive action immediately. This time, that assault against the LGBTQ+ community took place through a local business—now, twice. The business stricken by it this time is Jodi Bee’s Bakery in downtown Salem.
On January 27, the storefront—which dons a rainbow pride flag sticker, amongst others—found white nationalist symbols on top of the pride sticker to obscure it enough sending a chilling effect through the community. Although local police are looking into the matter, according to Jodi Bee’s social media accounts, another white nationalist poster-like sticker hit the storefront again on February 14. Just as before, another white supremacist sticker concealed another LGBTQ+ pride sticker. The sticker, placed without permission, displayed the words “Better Dead than Red.”
“Patriot Front is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism,” SPLC’s website reads. “Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”
In a post-Capitol insurrection political climate, across the country, hate crimes have continued to soar and thugs that were once hidden in the dark shadows of the most repugnant corners of the country have resurfaced with a vengeance. The recent acquittal of Trump by the U.S. Senate for the incitement of the Capitol riot—despite damning evidence and Republican leadership acknowledging the attack was indeed incited by Trump—doesn’t help. On the contrary, the lack of accountability of Trump’s actions—against the country and his involvement in the coup—only continue to embolden the acts of loud and separatist groups locally and nationwide. By not convicting Trump, the Senate has sent a direct message to white nationalist groups in the nation to show that there is hope for a Trump come back, as if they had uttered the words themselves “to stand back and stand by” until the right moment comes.
In ongoing incidents such as those experienced by Jodi Bee Bakes is not the first time a business or the LGBTQ+ in Salem have been targeted, likely due to the city’s reputation of being inclusionary of the LGBTQ+ community.
When The Rainbow Times first moved one of its offices to Salem, Mass., its newspaper boxes on the streets of the city were vandalized nearly 10 times. Each incident was reported to the police—one incident was in direct relation to Trump’s run for office. At the time, no other newspaper box (even other boxes located in the same locations that also housed other free publications), were being targeted in the way that the LGBTQ+ publication’s was. After the police reports and the continuance of such actions happening, the vandalism culminated in an incendiary device being placed in and detonated inside the newspaper box’s downtown location on August 23 that year. Luckily, there were no injuries to potential passersby.
In the case of Jodi Bee Bakes, the fact that another business is being targeted, apparently for being LGBTQ+ inclusive, should be taken as a warning sign to the broader community of what could transpire or brew in the days, weeks, months and years lying ahead. To do nothing is not an option—if nothing is done, then we are complicit and the end result could be worse than the 2016 incident experienced by The Rainbow Times and the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s not forget Trump’s four year in power were filled with anti-LGBTQ propaganda.
The Salem Common has had racist graffiti spray painted on the gazebo. The wall at Collins Cove was covered in Anti-Semitic imagery and rhetoric. A mini-mart was targeted and vandalized based on anti-Arab sentiment. The list continues locally and elsewhere. Being vigilant isn’t enough.
Collectively witnessing assaults around the nation relating to the LGBTQ+ community, the Black community, the Asian-American community, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, and so on, this is not the time to sit back or to take such vandalism—that some may have already deemed as “harmless”—lightly. Inaction equals to bolstering, just like we witnessed what white nationalists are capable of because they feel they may not be held accountable for wrongdoing. If it happened at the Capitol at the urging from the wrong “leaders,” it can happen anywhere, anytime. In Salem, the LGBTQ+ community has already experienced turmoil—most notably since 2016.
The Rainbow Times stands strongly with Jodi Bee Bakes and not only condemns the actions of hate directed toward the business and LGBTQ+ community, but also calls on the City of Salem to take immediate action to address this ongoing issue and other issues spouting from hate. Salem’s other residents who belong to underrepresented groups have been attacked before. And, it is still happening today.
We call on the City Council and Mayor’s Office to expediently approve of and install high-quality video surveillance cameras in key locations that capture Jodi Bee’s window front and the window fronts of all downtown businesses supporting inclusion. The businesses and people of Salem deserve better.
Being in business for almost 15 years, we are well aware of the kinds of hatred that exists and have had our fair share of threats, vandalism and a never-ending list of it all. However, in no other region throughout New England—and there are many major cities where the publication is delivered to—was its property detonated like it was in 2016 in downtown Salem; 5 years this August. In The Rainbow Times’ case, the assailants were not Salem residents but came to the city from New Hampshire to engage themselves in unlawful acts. That could be the case in Jodi Bee Bakes, since it has now been stricken more than once. We hope not.
Sharing such close borders with other neighboring states, although an incredible asset, also invites in thugs and vandals wishing to do harm to our perceived progressive city. The crimes we’ve experienced, as described above, already serve as an indisputable reminder that we must do more to protect our community, our businesses, artists, marginalized members, and allies. Unlike others, they have a target on their backs. Actually, all who represent inclusion or believe that we are all truly equal share a similar target.
While we await the actions of our municipal government, our team will proudly continue to patron Jodi Bee Bakes. We hope you will too.
The Rainbow Times’ Publishers