A Massachusetts city is investigating a crop of violent anti-gay and racist stickers that cropped up around town over the weekend.
Police in Attleboro, a city of just 45,000, are working to determine who posted half a dozen hateful stickers throughout the city Saturday, Mayor Paul Heroux told INTO.
NBC 10 first reported on the stickers, after residents posted the to the popular Facebook page “Everything Attleboro.” The stickers contained slurs and threats, according to Heroux.
Attleboro mayor @PaulHeroux says this homophobic, threatening sign has no place in his city – or anywhere. Tonight at 11 on @NBC10, you’ll see this wasn’t the only sticker posted in downtown pic.twitter.com/flBPEOIxSN
— Ashley Cullinane (@NBC10_Ashley) December 5, 2018
“Touch me, homo, and I’ll kill you,” one version read.
Heroux said the stickers have appeared in Massachusetts in the past, but their message is out of sync with the values of the progressive city.
“Whoever this is, it’s not part of a larger movement,” Heroux said. “I think it maybe reflects what we’re seeing as part of a greater national trend as a resurgence of hate speech and hate crimes.”
The stickers come just a month after Massachusetts voters soundly rejected the country’s first-ever statewide anti-transgender ballot referendum. Attleboro overwhelmingly voted in favor of keeping non-discrimination protections for transgender people in the state.
But progressive Massachusetts has also grappled with a number of anti-gay hate incidents over the past year. In June, a lesbian couple reported there were brutally attacked in a restaurant in Malden. A month later, police reported at a 50-year-resident was held captive and tortured in a church basement because he was gay. Then in November, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester was sent reeling after a student reportedly punched an LGBTQ-identified peer in the head after yelling an anti-gay slur.
Attleboro’s former mayor, Kevin Dumas, was openly gay and served for 14 years. Heroux noted that Dumas backed upholding transgender protections and proudly displays a pride flag each June. This past June, however, Dumas was the target of a small anti-gay protest outside his home after the state legislature refused to consider a ballot measure against marriage equality.
Heroux declined to say how police are investigating the incident, but said the investigation is active.
“Police have a strategy,” he said. “I can’t talk about what that is.”