An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 counter-protestors marched in Boston on Saturday, demonstrating against a right-wing rally one week after the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va., that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured 19 others.
Organized by a group calling itself Boston Free Speech, which had attempted to distance itself from white supremacist, KKK, and Nazi sympathizers in recent days, the rally on Boston Common disbanded by 1 p.m. ET, The Washington Post reported. According to eyewitnesses, the rally attracted at most a few dozen people, and attendees left the Common before delivering a series of planned speeches.
Dwarfing the rally was the largely peaceful protest march that proceeded from Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, Mass., to the Common, per CNN. The march was marked by anti-fascist and anti-racist messages, on signs and in chants, as well as support for the Black Lives Matter movement and other progressive causes.
Fears of another outbreak of violence after Charlottesville prompted the Boston Police Department to station more than 500 officers around the Common, erect barriers between the right-wing rally and the counter-protestors and install security cameras, according to the Post. On Twitter, the Boston Police Department reported that rocks had been thrown at officers, and asked “individuals to refrain from throwing urine, bottles and other harmful projectiles at our officers.” 27 arrests were made according to The Boston Globe, citing law enforcement sources.
President Trump, after blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville at a stunning press conference earlier in the week, once again proved unwilling to condemn white supremacists by name, and appeared at first to criticize the counter-protestors. “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you,” he tweeted shortly before 3:30 p.m. ET. “Great job by all law enforcement officers and Boston Mayor @Marty_Walsh.” A little more than an hour later, after immediate criticism of his initial remarks, he added: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before! I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”
Other demonstrations in solidarity with Charlottesville and against white supremacy were organized by activists in cities across the country, including Portland, Ore., and New Orleans, La.