Boston Free Speech Rally

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Boston Free Speech Rally
Boston Free Speech rally attendees cropped.jpg
Boston Free Speech rally attendees in the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common
DateAugust 19, 2017
VenueBoston Common
LocationBoston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Coordinates42°21′18″N 71°03′56″W / 42.35500°N 71.06556°W / 42.35500; -71.06556

The Boston Free Speech Rally[1] took place at the Boston Common on August 19, 2017.[2][3][4] 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.[5][6] The rally was organized by John Medlar and others in the Boston Free Speech Coalition.[7] 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.[8][9]

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.[6] 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.[8] Invictus was asked by rally organizers not to appear "from a PR standpoint," and McInnes and Fairbanks withdrew as speakers.[9][10]

Event timeline[edit]

Police erected barricades and blocked streets near the rally, and weapons of any kind were banned.[8][11] The city planned for around 500 police officers to be present for the event.[12]

The rally ended early, and all rally attendees left the Parkman Bandstand by 1:00 pm.[13] 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.[14][15] 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."[16] No members of the press were allowed to report from the bandstand.[17]

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.[18][19][13] 33 people were arrested, largely for disorderly conduct. There were a few arrests for assaults on police officers.[20] 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".[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glum, Julia (August 19, 2017). "Boston Free Speech Rally Ends Early After 15K Counter-Protesters Drown It Out". Newsweek.
  2. ^ Sanchez, Ray. "Thousands march in Boston in protest of controversial rally". Retrieved 19 August 2017 – via CNN.
  3. ^ "What we know about the 'free speech' rally on Boston Common". 2017-08-15. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  4. ^ Keneally, Meghan; Katersky, Aaron (August 18, 2017). "Boston ready for 'free speech' rally but 'we don't want hate groups'". ABC News. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Owen, Tess (August 19, 2017). "How Boston's massive "free speech" rally fell apart". VICE News. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Boston "free speech" rally ends after counter-protesters take to streets". CBS News. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  7. ^ "Who is the Boston Free Speech Coalition behind Saturday's rally? – The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  8. ^ a b c Reuters. "Roadblocks, Weapons Bans as Boston Braces for 'Free Speech' Rally". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b Levenson, Michael (August 14, 2017). "Speakers at 'free speech' rally dropping out". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  10. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Boston Free Speech Rally Permit Approved". Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  12. ^ AP, Mark Pratt /. "Boston Braces for Free Speech Rally: 'We Will Not Tolerate Violence'". Time. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  13. ^ a b Lowery, Wesley; Pazzanese, Christina (August 19, 2017). "Boston 'free speech' rally ends early amid flood of protesters; 27 people arrested". Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  14. ^ RealClearPolitics
  15. ^ Betancourt, Sarah (19 August 2017). "Trump attacks 15,000 Boston protesters as 'anti-police agitators'". Retrieved 19 August 2017 – via The Guardian.
  16. ^ a b Jacobo, Julia; Shapiro, Emily; Shiff, Blair (August 19, 2017). "Dozens arrested, few injured as 40,000 protesters descend on Boston". ABC News. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  17. ^ "Boston Stood for Suppression of Free Speech and Free Press | NewBostonPost". Retrieved 2017-10-05.
  18. ^ ‘Free speech’ rally ends early as thousands of protesters descend on Boston Common, The Washington Post, August 19, 2017
  19. ^ Boston march against right-wing rally draws thousands, BBC, August 19, 2017.
  20. ^ Boston Police Department [@bostonpolice] (August 19, 2017). "#BPDUpdate: BPD reports additional arrests from today. New total for arrests = 33" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links[edit]