Boston Free Speech Rally
|Date||August 19, 2017|
|Location||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.|
The Boston Free Speech Rally took place at the Boston Common on August 19, 2017. The organizers and participants were characterized as adherents of the alt-lite, a loosely organized right-wing political movement. Around 50 people attended the rally, and they were met by tens of thousands of counterprotesters. The rally was organized by John Medlar and others in the Boston Free Speech Coalition. It was intended to feature Kyle Chapman, Joe Biggs, Shiva Ayyadurai, and Samson Racioppi as speakers, although the rally ended before all of the speeches were made.
Though the "free speech" rally itself had been planned weeks in advance, it was ultimately eclipsed by the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, the genesis and aftermath of which organizers publicly distanced themselves. Nevertheless, Charlottesville had a significant impact on the counter-protest's massive numbers.
The rally originally advertised speakers including Gavin McInnes, and Holocaust denier Augustus Sol Invictus, as well as conservative activists Cassandra Fairbanks and Joe Biggs. Invictus was asked by rally organizers not to appear "from a PR standpoint," and McInnes and Fairbanks withdrew as speakers.
The rally ended early, and all rally attendees left the Parkman Bandstand by 1:00 pm. Most of the planned speeches did not take place, although Republican Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai gave a speech to other rallygoers making reference to "fake news" describing the rally as a Nazi event. Samson Racioppi, who was scheduled to speak, said "I really think it was supposed to be a good event by the organizers, but it kind of fell apart." No members of the press were allowed to report from the bandstand.
Meanwhile, wheareas the rally drew only a handful of attendees, between 30,000 and 40,000 people participated in the counter-protest march from Roxbury to the Boston Common. The event was largely peaceful, with no injuries reported as of the afternoon of August 19. 33 people were arrested, largely for disorderly conduct. There were a few arrests for assaults on police officers. During a news conference in the afternoon of August 19, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said that some rocks and bottles filled with urine had been thrown at police officers but that over all there was "very little injury and property damage".
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- Media related to Boston Free Speech rally at Wikimedia Commons