Boston gives permit for free speech rally, sets restrictions

20 August 2017, 12:10 | Isaac Mcdaniel

A poster for the Boston Free Speech rally

A poster for the Boston Free Speech rally

Hundreds of police officers were positioned around a Boston park where a group plans to hold a "Free Speech" rally with right-wing speakers on Saturday, a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist protest.

White supremacists have been emboldened by statements from President Donald Trump.

Rally organizers had initially invited some of the far-right speakers who attended last week's deadly demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.

The event, scheduled from noon to 2 p.m., has city officials warning of potential clashes between demonstrators and counterprotesters. It is taking extra precautions, such as thoroughly searching participants for weapons, to ensure security and order are maintained.

A growing number of United States political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy, with civil rights activists charging that they promote racism. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a vehicle plowed into counterdemonstrators.

Boston police and city officials had undertaken extensive preparations for the event, including ensuring that no one entered the area with weapons, homemade body armor, or any of the other risky objects used by white supremacists and some counterdemonstrators at past rallies, including in Charlottesville.

"But they don't have the right to create unsafe conditions, so we're going to respect their right of free speech, in return, they must respect our city".

"Fitchburg State University has always been, and will continue to be, a community that values diversity and inclusiveness and understands the richness they bring", Lapidus said.

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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.

Organizers with Boston Free Speech have denied affiliation with the Charlottesville rally and indicate the movement is "dedicated to peaceful rallies".

Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans. "We have a city that doesn't tolerate hatred and bigotry, and we wanted to make it clear to both groups".

He said in a separate interview that he does not expect violence.

Counter-protesters gather and prepare to march in Roxbury.

We get reaction from the Greater Boston community and those participating, and staying away, on Saturday. "Unfortunately, I think there's going to be a few troublemakers here".

"Contrary to a lot of the rumors out there, the goal of the rally is to denounce the kind of political violence that we have seen - a sort of rising tide throughout the country, and particularly most recently in Charlottesville", organizer John Medlar told CNN affiliate WBZ.

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