Boston Free Speech Rally Draws Counter-Protesters; 3 Arrested

Boston free speech advocates congregated on Boston Common last November 18 and were met by counter-protesters. However unlike the rally just three months earlier, this protest was comparatively peaceful with only three people arrested. Two were arrested for disorderly conduct and a third one was charged for assault and battery on a police officer.

The event dubbed “Rally for the Republic” was organised by two conservative groups, Resist Marxism and Boston Free Speech. Police carefully monitored the groups’ activities which persisted with the rally despite being denied a permit by the city’s local government.

Many participants were seen wearing pro-Trump apparel notably the U.S. President’s signature red cap with the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Rally organizers threw white hats into the crowd which were inscribed with the words “Resist Marxism”.

Speakers coming from Resist Marxism and Boston Free Speech took turns on the microphone telling the crowd from the bandstand that free speech was under threat. They also accused Antifa and Black Lives Matter supporters of being terrorist organisations while criticising media and left-leaning groups for referring to them as “hateful” and “white supremacists”.

Meanwhile, counter-protesters some of whom came from Boston College showed up to oppose the free speech advocates. The counter-protesters dubbed their movement “Fight Supremacy 2.0” and were led by Monica Grant, founder of the organisation Violence in Boston:

“Anytime Nazis and White Supremacists try to come to Boston, we show up. When they tried to show up in May, we showed up. When they tried to rally in August, we showed up. And they are trying to rally now so we showed up again.”

Resist Marxism has repeatedly and publicly denounced white supremacy. However the free speech groups’ rally last August took place just one week after the violent protest at Charlottesville.

Despite the tensions, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans reported the rally was generally peaceful and that police officers were prepared to take control of the situation if the event went out of hand.

At the conclusion of the rally, Josh Behrens founder of the group Democratic Socialists Club of America which is based in Boston College reported that he received an email with the subject line that read “Communists will hang from lampposts”. The email contained a clear death threat and a graphic, disturbing image.

“We are really rattled, but at the same time we recognise that if Nazis weren’t mad, we would be doing something wrong. The fact that they are getting angry at us means that we are pushing the right pressure points. As scary as it is, we need to continue standing together, because if we do, we can fight, and we can win.”