About 30 right-wing activists who had planned a "freedom of speech" rally on the Boston Town Hall Square stood on Saturday with about 300 leftist anti-protesters in an escalating war of words that became the last in the US (1
At least one black-clad left-wing protester with a black face mask and black bicycle helmet was headed off in handcuffs by the Boston police. A departmental spokesman said around 2pm. Saturday that he still could not confirm whether arrests have taken place.
The leftist groups, which included Stand Against Hate-Boston, Democratic Socialists of America, and Black Lives Matter Boston representatives, began Saturday before 10:00 am outside the Massachusetts State House.
The group chanted slogans such as "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Nazi fanatics go away" and held signs against far-right political groups as they prepared for a Coalition-organized lunchtime march last year behind another "Freedom of Speech" rally with an estimated 40,000 counter-protests.
The left began heading towards City Hall at around 11am, where they met the "free speech" rally-goers, some carrying US flags and an anti-Marxist banner  Over a megaphone, protesters chanted the "free Speech "" USA USA USA ".
Her rally was designed to protest "extreme left-wing violence," according to "Boston Free Speech," an organization that organized her.
Brandon Navom, an organizer of last year's Boston Free Speech Rally, who said he was part of an "anti-communist, anti-fascist" group, said it was an "absolute lie and urban myth" that the rallies were racist (19659005) Navom sued Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh for slander after Walsh said the previous rally had speakers who were "white racists," "hate group members," and "neo-Nazis." In court records, Navom suggested that he lose his job because of the comments because he was on a list of speakers for the event. Navom did not want to comment on the case on Saturday.
On Saturday he said that it was counter-protests who had tried to stop the freedom of speech of the rally participants.
"We are trying to conduct a civil discourse," Navom said about the roar of screaming people. "It's these people who want to silence us."
John Camden, another rally-goer, said he was a former white racist, but changed his attitude about two years ago because he concluded that it was a "fallacy" in race, common Conservative thing to see if they are African American, gay or members of another group.
News reported that the event last year in Charlottesville, VA, made an event of white racists, Camden, "sick" because they were untrue, he said.
"This was not an old-right, neo-Nazi rally … Some of them were [neo-Nazis] It was a mix, as President Trump says there were good people on both sides," Camden said wearing a green military helmet and a T-shirt labeled "American Guard New Hampshire".
The Anti-Defamation League has called the American Guard a group of white racists.
Camden also has a tattoo on his neck, which appears to be a "Wolfsangel," an ancient rune symbol that the ADL describes as "a symbol of choice for neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States."
Earlier, counter-protagonists protested: "Nazis are violent – remember Heather Heyer" – quotes a woman who was killed last year protesting against the White nationalist rally in Charlotesville.
"We are out here reminding ourselves of those killed in the name of hatred," said a spokesman for the Democratic Socialist group.
The racially heterogeneous group of mostly younger adults included some who wore jerseys that carried slogans such as "Abolition of Prisons," "Bad Woman," and "That's what a womanist looks like."
Another speaker, Martin Henson, 29, of Black Lives Matter Boston, told the crowd that bigotry can carry a familiar face.
"Sometimes the extreme right looks like the people next door," Henson said, calling on rally fans to express racism, sexism, anti-homosexuality and anti-transgender attitudes among their neighbors, families and friends.
A large number of Boston police officers on foot and on bicycles monitored the peaceful protest and helped organizers into reflective vests to guide protesters safely through the streets of the city, which were closed to traffic as the march blew the Beacon and Bowdoin Along Cambridge Street and on to the City Hall Plaza.
Neither the protesters nor the protests had a city permit for their demonstrations. An organizer of the "Freedom of Speech" rally said the group had tried in vain to get one of the city officials while Peter Berard, a counter-protest organizer, said his group did not need one.
Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cristella Guerra can be reached at email@example.com.