BOSTON (CBS/AP) — One of the planned speakers of the “Free Speech Rally” on Boston Common said the event “fell apart.”

But it lasted long enough to deliver a message that was missing any signs of racism.

About 40,000 demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally” a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

Related: Some Counter Protesters Scuffle With Police After Boston ‘Free Speech Rally’

The counterprotesters marched through the city to historic Boston Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned early by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches.

common11 Boston Free Speech Rally Speaker Says Event Fell Apart

An aerial view of protesters on Boston Common demonstrating against a so-called ‘free speech’ rally on the Parkman Bandstand Saturday, August 19, 2017. (WBZ-TV)

Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counterprotesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.

Photos: Boston Free Speech Rally And Counter Protests

Organizers of the midday event, billed as a “Free Speech Rally,” have publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.

bandstand Boston Free Speech Rally Speaker Says Event Fell Apart

The ‘free speech’ rally was confined to the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common Saturday as barriers and police held back a massive protest. (WBZ-TV)

TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counterprotesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him.

Read: President Trump Chides ‘Anti-Police Agitators’

But other counterprotesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counterprotesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman’s hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

boston protests1 Boston Free Speech Rally Speaker Says Event Fell Apart

Thousands of protesters march in Boston against a ‘Free Speech Rally’ on Boston Common, August 19, 2017. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Yet Saturday’s showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

“We are strictly about free speech,” the group said on its Facebook page. “We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”

Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. Alan B Flood says:

    so by the sheer force of numbers, the Alt left has denied the free speech and assembly of others. Isn’t that the show of their supremacy?

    1. It’s a show of strength. There is strength in numbers. Not to be confused with “supremacy”.

  2. The counter protesters did not deny anybody their unalienable rights, nor did the Boston police. The right wing groups could have continued with their event (they were booked from noon until 2 pm) but opted to disperse. The Boston police did an excellent job of keeping the groups apart. Again, nobody denied the right wing groups their right to protest. Did you notice the barricades between the groups as well as the open space between the two groups?

  3. “Some speakers have dropped out, while others were uninvited after Charlottesville. But rally organizers said on social media that Kyle Chapman, Joe Biggs, US Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai and congressional candidate Samson Racioppi have been confirmed.
    Chapman and Biggs are probably the most controversial.
    Chapman is well-known in right-wing circles for arming himself with a stick and confronting anti-fascist demonstrators in Berkeley, California, according to the ADL. Known by the nickname Based Stickman or the Alt Knight, he has urged members of his group to battle left-wing activists, the ADL said.
    Biggs, a former contributor to Alex Jones’ InfoWars, is chief operations officer at the online outlet Rogue Right Media.”

    The objectionable speakers, Biggs and Racioppi dropped out leaving Shiva Ayyadurai, the self proclaimed “creator of Email” and a dozen or so followers to create a misleading video of Shiva campaigning for a Senate seat by spewing hateful allegations of racism against Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and even Barack Obama. The insinuation being that this peaceful gathering was what all the counter protestors were about. Spin you will have to try hard to find as the video is over 12 minutes long and quite boring. But if that’s what you like.. go for it.

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