Boston 'Free Speech Rally' Ends Early, Thousands Join Counterprotest

Frederick Owens
August 20, 2017

Thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest hate speech a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration, and their shouts drowned out the "Free Speech" rally that sparked their march.

Boston officials said they planned to deploy about 500 police officers to prevent violence similar to what took place in Charlottesville last weekend, where a rally by white nationalists, including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members demonstrating over plans to remove a Robert E. Lee statue, ended in the death of a counterprotester after a auto was rammed into a crowd that was marching through the streets.

Organizers said on Facebook they are not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers.

Counter protesters of the Boston rally marched from Roxbury to the Boston Common when the event began, in order to stand against white supremacy.

A large crowd of people march towards the Boston Commons to protest the Free Speech Rally, Aug. 19, 2017.

A counterprotester confronts a professed supporter of President Donald Trump at a "Free Speech" rally by conservative activists at Boston Common on August 19, 2017, in Boston.

Police estimated that 15,000 people took part in the counterprotest march. "In return, they must respect our city".

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Despite concerns after the events in Charlottesville, one counter protester said it's worth the risk to attend. "We are witnessing increasingly regular incidents of political violence being used to silence political opponents". "We want to send a clear message that you don't get to come to the city of Boston with your hatred".

UPDATE 12:13PM: Crowd of rally participants grows, as does the massive group of counter-protesters.

"This so-called free speech rally - some of the people speaking have said some very hurtful things about the Jewish community, about the African-American community, about a whole bunch of other communities". A large group of counter-protesters is also expected.

"I just think the rhetoric has really brought this to a different level, and that's what we're anxious about", he said. The Boston Police Department prohibited weapons and sticks, and backpacks and bags were searched.

"We will not tolerate any misbehavior, violence or vandalism whatsoever", said Police Commissioner William Evans.

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

By mid-afternoon, Republican pollster Frank Lutz tweeted that "The handful of rally attendees" had left the Boston Common pavilion "concluding their event without the planned speeches". The national mall can hold many, many more people than appear to have been in Boston, but the actual number of people who went to the Trump inauguration has never been certain.

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