A Framingham based group was listed among 14 hate groups in Massachusetts by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog group that tracks hate groups across the nation.
The Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement, or CCFILE, was founded in 2003 by twin brothers Jim and Joe Rizoli. It has been listed as a “general hate” group since 2009 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Jim Rizoli did not flatly reject the SPLC‘s categorization but instead asked, “What constitutes a hate group?” He added that he consider’s the SPLC a hate group.
The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
CCFIILE’s presence and categorization by the SPLC is not new to Framingham. The mayor’s office is aware of the listing but refused to comment on it, saying the group should not get any more attention that it deserves.
The group focuses on illegal immigration. Several posts on its website target immigrants in Framingham’s Brazilian community, decry censorship and deny the Holocaust. The group’s website does not list any meetings, but Rizoli said it has a large following on the internet. The website homepage includes tabs that read “Case Against the Jews,” “Rizolis Uncensored” and “Conspiracies.”
Jim Rizoli could not give a hard count to how many members are part of the group. “It’s hard to say,” Rizoli said, “It’s a belief system in your mind, how you think and act.”
The Rizolis once had a cable TV show but it was canceled by Access Framingham in 2011 for violating network policies after a viewer complained about anti-Semitic content.
The most recent public appearance by either brother was by Joe Rizoli during a City Council meeting called to discuss a proposed welcoming ordinance directed at the immigrant community. Rizoli was the only member of the public to speak against the proposal, claiming it would be a gateway for illegal immigration.
Cesar Stewart-Morales, a commissioner on Framingham’s Human Relations Commission said he initially didn’t know much about CCFIILE and what the group stood for. He said knew the beliefs the Rizolis hold and that it didn’t surprise him that they are on the SPLC‘s list again. “Everything he says is just so offensive,” Morales said.
The commission has not heard any formal complaints against the group, but Morales said given the reaction to the welcoming ordinance by Joe Rizoli at the City Council meeting and the SPLC‘s news, the commission will discuss it. “Our job is to focus on how groups in the community are relating,” Morales said, “It will definitely be a discussion item.”
View the Souther Poverty Law Center’s full Hate Map.
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