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New Hampshire attorney general files civil rights lawsuit against neo-Nazi group for drag story hour protest

By Melissa Alonso, Carroll Alvarado and Carma Hassan, CNN

(CNN) — New Hampshire’s attorney general has filed a civil rights lawsuit against 20 members of a neo-Nazi group for violating anti-discrimination laws during a protest outside a drag story hour in June.

Attorney General John M. Formella filed the lawsuit against members of the group NSC-131 Wednesday for attempting “to incite, compel, or coerce the Teatotaller Café,” in Concord, “to cancel a planned drag queen story hour event and to terrorize the café,” according to the complaint.

The group did so “for no other reason than the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those performers,” the complaint states.

Emmett Soldati, the owner of the Teatotaller Café, praised the attorney general’s decision to file the lawsuit.

“This investigation, I think, is important for a lot of people that maybe have felt that New Hampshire is a place where this type of activity could just get swept under the rug or forgotten about or not pursued seriously. And this is a strong signal to folks in our community that it is taken seriously at the highest levels of our government,” he told CNN.

Performer Juicy Garland told CNN the NCS-131 members shouted homophobic slurs at her during the June 18 protest.

“Luckily, I was able to keep the kids distracted enough to be unaware and the parents comfortable enough to feel safe. We outlasted them,” she said. “Ironically, they were in the street and on the sidewalk causing disruption and threatening our safety. We were inside reading stories about family on Father’s Day.”

When the story time was disrupted in June, Soldati said, “There were a lot of people that thought, ‘Oh, this has never happened here. This doesn’t happen.’”

But, he added, other community groups came forward and said they were aware of hate groups organizing in the state and didn’t feel like it was something talked about or seen as problematic.

But since the incident, Soldati said the community has rallied behind the coffeeshop and the programs they offer.

“We have not been deterred in being who we are, putting on the programming that we want,” he said. “At the end of the day, the programming that we do, we’ve been doing for 10 years because it’s what makes us successful as a business, because it’s what the community wants and the community needs.”

The memo from the attorney general’s office “sends a really powerful signal that this is taken seriously and this is a community that we stand with and that our community does belong here in New Hampshire, and should feel safe here and can feel included,” Soldati said.

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