Hundreds of counter-protesters overwhelmed a handful of far-right protesters at a “free-speech rally” in Boston on Saturday, one week after thousands of counter-protesters humiliated a tiny white supremacists rally in Washington, D.C.
Saturday’s “Anniversary March Against Far-Left Violence” in Boston was organized by the groups Boston Free Speech and Resist Marxism, which have ties to far-right and white supremacist groups. They held a similar rally in Boston this time last year that drew tens of thousands of counter-protesters onto the city’s streets.
“Nazis are violent / Remember Heather Heyer,” counter-protesters chanted this year as they marched to confront the far-right rally, according to a live Facebook video by left-leaning activist Gregg Housh. Heyer died last year when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a group of anti-racism protesters after a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Full disclosure: Housh and this reporter worked together in the activist group Occupy Boston.)
Tweets by the activist media outlet Unicorn Riot showed hundreds of anti-racism protesters confronting the small right-wing rally near Boston’s Holocaust Memorial at City Hall Plaza.
Police kept far-right and anti-racism protesters physically separate once they met, according to Housh’s video. Vastly outnumbered and drowned out by counter-protesters, the “free speech” activists appeared to largely speak to themselves and reporters at City Hall before leaving for the subway.
Neither march was permitted, according to The Boston Globe — a common situation with protests in the city.
After leaving the area around Boston City Hall, an even smaller group of far-right protesters chanted “all speech / free speech,” “U-S-A,” and “fuck off / socialists” as they marched toward the Bunker Hill Monument — a towering obelisk in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown — according to another live Facebook video posted Resist Marxism.
“We left a lot of commies back in Boston,” one far-right protester could be heard to say in the video as the group marched through the streets of Charlestown.
Once at the monument, the far-right protesters posed with their banners and gave speeches through a megaphone. But counter-protesters followed, according to another Facebook video by Housh.
“Free speech removes the lid of a pot about to boil over,” far-right protester Daniel Berner said on that video. “Speech is an escape valve to avoid conflagration.” He went on to claim the media, government, and academia are controlled by “bigots” who restrict free speech. He also railed against “antifa,” or anti-fascist activists, whom he claimed Democratic politicians and the media provide cover for.
“Antifa upholds the neoliberal globalist status quo,” Berner said, “although they’ll never admit it.”