Boston "Free Speech" Rally Ends After Counter-Protesters Take To Streets

Posted August 20, 2017

A "free speech" rally in downtown Boston, Massachusetts ended prematurely Saturday after thousands of counterprotesters poured into the streets to drown out potential white supremacist rhetoric.

Counter-protesters will march toward the Boston Common, where police will attempt to keep rival demonstrators separated after a vehicle attack by a neo-Nazi during a similar counter-protest last weekend killed a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia.

After the backlash, he gave a scripted statement Monday that said racism was evil and called out the "KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups" as repugnant.

As the country continues to grapple with the unbridled violence of Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, major cities such as Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and others will be the site of major protests today-some under the guise of "free speech", others in defiance of white supremacy and in what organizers are calling "solidarity with Charlottesville".

At 1:30 pm ET, Boston police had declared the Free Speech Rally "officially over".

Augustus Invictus, a notable conservative figure and planned speaker, reportedly encouraged people at May's free speech rally to arm themselves for a civil war.

The Boston Police Department arrested 27 people during Saturday's protests, Police Commissioner William Evans said in a press conference.

Police estimated that 15,000 people took part in the counterprotest march. "We believe in tolerance, unity, and equality, and urge everyone to stay safe and respect our City", the advisory reads.

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In addition to the Boston rally, and an expected counter-march, protests are also expected to be held in Texas on Saturday.

The violence in Charlottesville triggered the biggest domestic crisis yet for Trump, who provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising "very fine people" on both sides of the fight.

Walsh later tweeted there is no place for hatred in the city. "We are out here to add an extra body to the numbers of those who resist", said Katie Zipps, who travelled from Malden, north of Boston, for the counter-protest.

Tensions flared as police escorted some rally attendees out of the Common, prompting several physical altercations between police and counter-protesters. "Love, not hate. We stand together against intolerance". Security is tight, as marchers are prohibited from bringing placards on sticks or flags on poles, since they could be used as weapons.

The permit is for 100 people and a two-hour rally Saturday from noon until 2 p.m.

Organisers had said they would not give a platform to racism or bigotry.

"I didn't realize how unplanned of an event it was going to be", said Samson Racioppi, a candidate for Congress who was on the list of speakers publicized by the rally organizers.