Huge crowds of counter protesters have marched peacefully through downtown Boston against a "Free Speech" rally featuring right-wing speakers, a week after Heather Heyer, an anti-racism campaigner, was killed at a Virginia white supremacist demonstration.
First Boston. That rally is to take place in the historic Boston Common at noon EST, organized by a group calling itself "Boston Free Speech".
PBS noted that the free-speech rally had been planned since July, but it gained increased attention in the aftermath of last week's white nationalist gathering in Virginia.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool at the scene said those who turned up for the conservative rally were confined to the bandstand area on Boston Common. Reuters reported that the event's speakers could not be heard over the shouts by counterprotesters, who were kept away from the gazebo where the free speech rally was held.
Boston police say 27 arrests were made during the conservative activist rally and counterdemonstration on Boston Common.
The Boston Herald reported that up to 30,000 people attended the counter-protest.
Medlar also told CNN affiliate WBZ, "Contrary to a lot of the rumors out there, the goal of the rally is to denounce the kind of political violence that we have seen - a sort of rising tide throughout the country, and particularly most recently in Charlottesville".
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A man dressed as Captain America protested the "free speech" rally.
In addition, harsh restrictions were set in place to obtain the permit for Saturday's rally, including a ban against backpacks, sticks, and anything that could be used as a weapon. "I mean, they might".
"I'm naïve to think we're going to have a kumbaya moment, but if we can get people to understand how wrong this hate speech is or get people to come to a neutral side or be more questioning about taking such a stance, I would take that as a win", Camacho said.
Compared to the "Free Speech Rally" - which garnered roughly 50 attendees, according to The Boston Globe - the counterprotests rapidly overtook the city.
In a news conference Friday, city and state officials said they have been preparing for the rally since the Charlottesville protests and planned to deploy a broad range of tactics to keep the peace.
He said that he had also been in contact with Harold Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston field office, ahead of Saturday's demonstrations.