Thousands gather in Boston for 'Free Speech Rally'

John Medlar a spokesman for the Boston Free Speech Coalition at WBUR

John Medlar a spokesman for the Boston Free Speech Coalition at WBUR

One woman who attended the protest posted a video on Twitter showing hundreds of people gathering for the march.

The event heated up as they left, with counter-protesters blocking police dressed in riot gear.

Boston's success in preventing widespread violence at a right-wing rally and counterprotest on Saturday should serve as a template for smaller cities hosting similar demonstrations, law-enforcement officials said.

He also praised those who came out in Boston to oppose bigotry.

Boston police arrested 27 people in protests surrounding the "Free Speech" rally, Police Commissioner William Evans said.

Some 500 police officers will be on the streets around the popular tourist destination.

The Boston rally, which organizers insist was neither about white supremacy nor Confederate monuments, was almost canceled following the violence in Charlottesville.

But opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the spectre of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major United States city since Charlottesville.

One of the scheduled speakers, Kyle Chapman, claimed allegiance to a group called the "Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights", which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "new Alt-Right group of street fighters". As the rally attendees were loaded into the vans, some counterprotesters shouted "Make them walk!" while others chanted "No Trump!".

Some confrontations involving counter-protesters occurred, including a group that grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman's hands, causing her to stumble and fall to the ground.

However, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told the Herald he doesn't believe the members will be disruptive, and had nothing to do with the violent protests in Charlottesville. In sharp contrast with Charlottesville, today's events in and near the historic Boston Common were largely peaceful. One woman died and others were injured when a vehicle allegedly driven by a man linked to white nationalist groups plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters. Others carried a large banner that read: "SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY".

Donald Trump, three days later, finally did so in a scripted response-only to, just over 24 hours later, blame "both sides" for last Saturday's violence in an unhinged press conference.

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