BOSTON (CBS/AP) – A conservative rally against “far-left violence” was met by hundreds of counterprotestors in Boston a year after a similar demonstration drew tens of thousands of counterprotesters.
Organizer John Medlar says the event was meant to call out Internet censorship and “violent suppression” of public discourse. The organization added that they are not white supremacists.
The event organized by Boston Free Speech drew a few dozen supporters to City Hall Plaza waving American flags and a banner decrying Marxism.
“We have Army veterans and American flags and we are keeping America great again,” said one man among the “Free Speech” group which stood behind police protection.
More than 300 counterprotesters organized by the Democratic Socialists of America and others confronted the rally with anti-Nazi and anti-racism chants and banners.
The two groups screamed at each other while holding up signs.
”This is a counter-protest,” said Rachel Liberty. “I would really guide people against falling for this free speech message.”
People from the free speech group opposed the message by counter-protestors.
“If you are right of left, you’re a Nazi. If you love your country and want closed borders, you’re a Nazi. It doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned, they are insane,” another man said.
The city did not grant them permits for their rally, and the counter protesters did not receive a permit either. The groups converged around noon, and the rally concluded a little over an hour later.
Boston police said they made no arrests and the competing camps largely dispersed after a few hours.
Organizers of Stand Against Hate – Boston and Antifa marched to City Hall Plaza late Saturday morning in advance of the free speech rally, which was blocked off using barricades. Police positioned themselves between the two groups.
In 2017, in the aftermath of deadly conflicts in Virginia, a free speech rally was held in Boston. The small group was outnumbered by thousands of counter protesters on Boston Common.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)