BOSTON (CBS) — The organizers of last month’s controversial “Boston Free Speech Rally,” which drew thousands of protesters to Boston Common but featured very few actual attendees, say they’re planning another event for November.
Boston Free Speech Coalition organizer John Medlar told WBZ-TV that he wasn’t sure if the event would be a rally, meet-up, or other type of event.
The last rally on August 19 featured just a handful of people huddled in the Parkman Bandstand. Police and barricades separated them from the roughly 40,000 protesters who marched up Tremont Street.
Medlar praised the police for keeping the rally-goers safe, but said he was upset that speakers, press, and others looking to join the rally were prevented from getting to the Common.
He blames Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and the comments he made prior to the rally that equated their group with white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Speakers who were initially invited to the rally–but dropped out–included a Holocaust denier and a man who became known on the internet for beating a counter-protester with a stick.
However, Medlar said his group is simply a varied coalition of people from many backgrounds and political leanings who share a strong belief in freedom of speech, and believes Walsh and Evans’ comments escalated tensions.
“The fact that the rally in August was treated the way that it was is a perfect example of why it is important to stand up for their rights for universal expression,” Medlar said, explaining the reasoning for a second rally.
He said the group has not yet met with city officials to discuss permitting or safety for a November event, though they plan to.