Boston Prepares For Right-Wing Rally Saturday
Showdown in BeantownScott Eisen / Getty Politics Features Boston
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Several hard-right groups will gather on Boston Common tomorrow. NBC News reports that
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). But since a group of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members took to the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia — ostensibly to protest the planned removal of a Confederate statue — the expected attendance by protesters has grown substantially. “It went from a few hundred to well over 1,000 to now roughly 3,000 pretty quickly,” said ANSWER Coalition Boston organizer Nino Brown. “There are about 10,000 interested in our event, according to Facebook.”
According to Boston’s CBS affiliate, Mayor Marty Walson urged people to stay home from the Free Speech Rally on Boston Common:
The mayor said he has spoken with the Southern Poverty Law Center for guidance on how to handle events involving white supremacists. “They say that interacting with these groups just gives them a platform to spread their message of hate,” said Walsh. “They recommend that people should not confront these rallies. So we’re urging everyone to stay away from the Common.”
According to Reuters, Boston has learned from the recent terrorist attacks in Charlottesville and Barcelona:
“We all know the tragedy that happened in Barcelona. That only makes us more vigilant,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who was the department’s second-in-command during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
A multitude of police officers will be present, in addition to various other plainclothes security and intelligence-gathering personnel, according to the Boston Globe:
More than 500 police officers, including undercover units, will monitor Saturday’s “Boston Free Speech” rally on the Common and will shut down the event if it turns violent, officials said Friday morning at a City Hall news conference.
The rally, which claims to be a “free speech” gathering, is supposedly open to all comers.
City administrators gave the go-ahead to the Boston Free Speech Coalition earlier in the week. The event is expected to begin at 10 A.M.
“There have been questions about why we granted a permit for the rally tomorrow,” said Walsh. “The courts have made it abundantly clear. They have the right to gather, no matter how repugnant their views are. But they don’t have the right to create unsafe conditions. They have the right to free speech. In return, they have to respect our city. At the same time, we can’t look away. The children of our city are watching, and I want everyone who goes to the Common tomorrow to understand that. The young people of our city are watching TV, are following this. We have to make it clear what we stand for in the City of Boston.”
A large counter-protest is planned. Barriers will separate the two sides. No weapons or wooden sticks of any kind will be allowed on the grounds. Per the Globe:
The list includes: guns; knives; weapons; sharp objects; shields or fireworks; popup tents or canopies; cans; glass containers; pre-mixed beverages or alcoholic beverages; wagons or pull carts; coolers; drones; pets, except for certified service animals; grills, propane tanks, or open flames; bicycles; flag poles, bats, clubs, and sticks, including signs attached to sticks; and any athletic equipment or other item that could be used as a weapon, the department said in a statement.
Additionally, the Frog Pond will be closed.