BOSTON (CBS) — The NAACP’s Boston Chapter President, Tanisha Sullivan, says she hopes the counter-demonstration to last weekend’s Boston Free Speech Rally was a “catalyst for what’s to come.”

Sullivan, an attorney who has held the position for about a year, sat down with WBZ political analyst Jon Keller to talk about the rally and counter-protest as well as other local issues.

tanisha sullivan Keller @ Large: NAACP Boston Branch Head On Boston Free Speech Rally

Tanisha Sullivan, President of the Boston Chapter of the NAACP.

“I was certainly encouraged by the fact that the counter-protests that we saw were really led by ordinary citizens,” Sullivan said. “What we saw particularly with the march that started in Roxbury and headed to the Common was a march that was a movement, really, that was led by a woman from Roxbury, Monica Cannon. And what we saw was that she was concerned about what we were hearing out of Charlottesville and said ‘not here in the city of Boston’.”

Cannon helped lead that march of nearly 40,000 mostly peaceful protesters up Tremont Street and to Boston Common.

Jon mentioned that Cannon also spoke about other issues, like income inequality–and Sullivan noted that systemic issues like wealth inequality between white and black families, gaps in achievement and opportunity in Boston’s education system, and even gaps in the criminal justice system need to be addressed, too.

chopper2 Keller @ Large: NAACP Boston Branch Head On Boston Free Speech Rally

Thousands of protesters march on Tremont Street in Boston against a ‘Free Speech Rally’ on Boston Common, August 19, 2017. (WBZ-TV)

“If you’re concerned about racism in our city, if you’re concerned about supremacy in our city, then we need to be mindful of the systems and some of the issues that exist here in the city that are personifying racism in our day to day,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said she believes authorities made a great effort to ensure people’s safety at the event, and disagrees with some First Amendment activists who are protesting the restrictions on the rally.

“There were safety precautions put into place in anticipation of this so-called Free Speech Rally actually drawing a lot of people, and it didn’t,” said Sullivan. “So what we saw was a lot of open space that went unused, fortunately, and from my perspective that sent a very good message.”

Keller and Sullivan also discussed City Councilor Tito Jackson’s campaign for Mayor of Boston.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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