Western Mass. Residents To Counter-Protest Boston 'Free Speech' Rally

by Garry Watts August 20, 2017, 0:07
Western Mass. Residents To Counter-Protest Boston 'Free Speech' Rally

"The Free Speech coalition in Boston" dispersed its rally after thousands of counter-protesters surrounded the bandstand where it was supposed to happen.

The "Boston Free Speech Rally" - organized by a coalition of groups calling themselves "libertarian" and "conservative" - has been on the books since late July and the protests were organized not long after by ANSWER Coalition Boston and the local chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM). "They're young kids, not KKK, not white supremacists, they're young college kids", Kenny, a security guard, who refused to reveal his last name, said.

A large crowd of people march towards the Boston Commons to protest the Boston Free Speech Rally in Boston, MA, U.S., August 19, 2017.

"We don't support hate groups, we don't have any hate groups speaking at our event", Boston Free Speech organizer John Medlar said. "We have a city that doesn't tolerate hatred and bigotry, and we wanted to make it clear to both groups", Evans said.

Despite the fact that there were few arrests, and the day was largely peaceful, President Trump tweeted that there were "anti-police agitators" at the Boston events.

"Fitchburg State University has always been, and will continue to be, a community that values diversity and inclusiveness and understands the richness they bring", Lapidus said.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh gave a stern warning ahead of the rally.

"I'm more saddened, and really concerned for my area, the country, and the world", he said Friday.

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Cities across the United States are seeking ways to head off the kind of violence seen in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend when white nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with counter-protesters over the planned removal of a Civil War-era statue. And I'm asking people when you come into Boston, respect this city.

Barriers will separate participants from a planned counter-protest.

A total of 500 police officers will be present at the rally, and several hundred more are available if necessary.

Opponents had feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major US city since Charlottesville.

However, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told the Herald he doesn't believe the members will be disruptive, and had nothing to do with the violent protests in Charlottesville. "While it is our intention to send a message to those who would subject marginalized communities to domestic white terrorism, hate speech, and violence, we also stand in opposition to the most insidious and deadly forms of white supremacy".

The group said on Facebook that it is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

"We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence", the group said on its Facebook page.

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