Thousands March in Boston for Counter-Protest to 'Free Speech Rally'

A Look at Who Is Behind the Boston Free Speech Rally
A Look at Who Is Behind the Boston Free Speech Rally
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20 August, 2017

City leaders reiterated that a zero-tolerance policy on violence and weapons will be strictly enforced during Saturday's events.

The organizers of Free speech rally earlier distanced themselves from any white supremacist and Neo-Nazi group or ideology.

Boston placed tight restrictions on rallygoers, banning backpacks, sticks or anything that could be turned into a weapon.

Rallies against white supremacy are planned for Saturday evening in Dallas and Atlanta.

And though there won't be a riot police presence at the outset of the event, Evans said "they will be close by, ready to roll out and take the line if we need to".

Police escorted several rally participants through the crowds, sometimes struggling against protesters who tried to stop them.

The rally comes one week after violent confrontations between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"We don't want hate groups to come to our city or state", he added.

The counterdemonstration was organized by an array of groups, including the Coalition to Mobilize and Organize Boston against Trump, the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition, Boston Democratic Socialists of America and Black Lives Matter, according to a Facebook page for the event.

The free speech rally, however, was sparsely attended, with never more than a few dozen people.

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The permit granted Wednesday is for 100 people and a two-hour rally from noon until 2 p.m., with a two-hour setup and an hourlong breakdown time.

Thousands arrive still - many more expected.

Silberberg said she is looking forward to the result of a review of how Virginia cities handle permits for demonstrations that was ordered by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe after Charlottesville, where right-wing marchers had a permit.

Evans said more than 500 Boston police officers on bikes, on foot and undercover will be at the rally, with more officers available if necessary.

"Just because you're in a big city like Boston and I'm in a small town like Montpelier, Vermont or Burlington, it doesn't mean that we can ignore those issues, and we can say 'that's away, that's not here.' You know, I'm gonna bring this home and continue the fight and keep talking about this", said Shoenberg.

"Organizers claimed that they were honoring their First Amendment right to assemble and express radical viewpoints".

In the end, the free speech rally itself appeared to fizzle from lack of attendance, either because supporters chose to stay away or were unable to make their way through the massive numbers of protesters. "No matter how repugnant their views are".

Critics of the Boston rally say they'll be going into the city to decry those groups who they believe have become more empowered in recent months. He said, "They were very cooperative with us".

"I've researched it and got a little nervous", said Sabathia, who has his 13-year-old son, also named CC, with him.


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