A planned “Free Speech Rally” in MA “fell apart” and ended prematurely Sunday afternoon, one of its scheduled speakers said.
“To fight back on racism, to fight back on anti-Semitism, to fight back on the white supremacists that were coming to our city”, said Walsh.
Hours before the rally in the MA capital was to start, an estimated fifteen thousand counter-protesters marched peacefully through downtown Boston.
Boston police estimated about 15,000 participated in the march to the Common.
Counterprotesters hold signs while marching to a planned “Free Speech Rally” on Boston Common on August 19, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Evans confirmed the number of arrests at 27 (later updated to 33), noting that most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct, with a few assaults against police officers.
Charlottesville police said they had meant to keep the two sides apart.
Boston officials expected counter protesters to show up in numbers, leading to concerns of crowd violence in light of the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
Instead they are “libertarians, conservatives, traditionalists, classical liberals, (Donald) Trump supporters or anyone else who enjoys their right to free speech”.
“We didn’t want what happened in Virginia to happen here”, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters afterward.
Organizers of the rally on Facebook denounced the violence and white supremacist chants of the Charlottesville event. The leafy downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of numerous rallies and protests for centuries. In a tweet, he said, “I went from the peace march at the Reggie Lewis center to the West Broadway Unity Day in Southie – two examples of the Boston we truly are”. CNN reported that at least eight people had been arrested.
“I think there are many groups that are marginalized in our community… and I think we need to stand together and say that is not OK”, she added.