Boston Police Ramp Up Security Amid 'Free Speech' Rally

Posted August 20, 2017

According to many media reports, the Boston Free Speech Coalition rally at the Boston Common left the Parkman Bandstand with a police escort before 1:00 PM, even though their city permit allowed the rally to go until 2 PM.

Boston's mayor has warned far-right groups, in case they do show up, to abstain from violence.

As of Saturday afternoon, CNN reported at least eight people were arrested.

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. Three ballistic vests were confiscated by officers, including one that had a weapon.

The president's tweets were met with backlash from his critics. Police are looking tough and smart! A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a vehicle plowed into counterdemonstrators.

The protests come one week after a deadly confrontation between white nationalists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., where police say 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed and more than a dozen injured when James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, drove his auto into a crowd of protesters. The conservatives left shortly after their arrival.

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

Some counter-protesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandannas over their faces.

Chanting anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, they waved signs that read, "Love your neighbor", "Resist fascism" and "Hate never made United States great".

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

But civil rights specialists say the group is "alt-lite", and that Saturday's event is part of a broader effort among some right-wing groups to bring their ideological battles into the streets. "We have people from the Green Party here, we have Bernie (Sanders) supporters here, we've got people who believe in nationalism". That's what they think, a lot of them.

"I need to show up and just be with other people who are just so outraged and so sad and heartbroken", Sheldon said". "They might be your next door neighbor or Cub Scout leader", Robb said. "Unlearned lessons can be repeated".

She said she hoped the message of the counter-protesters would influence others at the rally.

This comes just one week after a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent and deadly. The leafy downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of numerous rallies and protests for centuries.

"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.

Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in Austin, Texas, Saturday morning, holding signs in support of racial equality.

In Portland, Oregon, hundreds took to the streets Friday night for an "Eclipse Hate" demonstration, which organizers said was meant to show solidarity with the people of Charlottesville, CNN affiliate KPTV reported.

Organizers said they held a separate gathering in order to avoid a confrontation. One said: "Make America Human Again".

He also praised those who came out in Boston to oppose bigotry.

"We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence", it said.