Thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest hate speech a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration, and their shouts drowned out the ''Free Speech'' rally that sparked their march. Jonah Green reports.
Thousands of people in Boston protested a much smaller "Free Speech" rally featuring right-wing speakers on Saturday, with hundreds of police officers mobilized to prevent a recurrence of violence that left a woman dead at a Virginia white-supremacist rally last week. There were certainly moments of tensions in the crowd as protesters on opposing sides confronted each other, but more often with arguments, not with outright violence. The response by Boston Police was praised on Saturday by President Trump, who tweeted "Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston" but later applauded the protesters for demonstrating against hate and bigotry. A sentiment echoed by the city's police chief. SOUNDBITE (English) BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER WILLIAM B. EVANS, SAYING: "Overall, again everyone did a good job. 99.9% of the people here were here for the right reason, and that's to fight bigotry and hate for the most part here today. We knew we were going to have some people who were going to cause problems. And we had to make... the latest is 27 arrests so far today." These massive demonstrations come on the heel of last week's events, which saw white supremacists and Nazis marching in the streets of Charlottesville, with the president called out for not going far enough to ease tensions in the country. The U.S. is doing quite a bit of soul searching this week -- the fate of Confederate statues is being debated in the public, with the president defending their existence - but as they increasingly become rallying points for white supremacists, some local governments are working faster than ever to tear them down.