‘Free Speech’ Group Obtains Permit For Boston Rally

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/16/free-speech-group-obtains-permit-for-boston-rally/

BOSTON — An organizer behind a controversial free speech rally planned for Saturday on the Common announced Wednesday afternoon that the group has obtained a permit from the city.

A 23-year-old Fitchburg State University media and communications student named John Medlar, who has emerged as a spokesman for the group, dubbed “Boston Free Speech,” told reporters that his organization wants to “promote good arguments from both the left and right” and wants to “promote people getting together around the shared constitutional values that form the basis of our society.” 

The list of scheduled speakers has been thinning out, however. Certain speakers have been told that their presence is not welcome while others are electing to avoid the event altogether, fearing a repeat performance of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Tuesday, Medlar appeared to try to set the record straight regarding Saturday’s rally:

One of the speakers who has backed out, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, took to Twitter days ago to counter a claim by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh that the group has not been issued a permit:

Medlar told WBUR that canceling the rally might actually be more dangerous at this point. 

“If we weren’t there to direct things, to keep out the fringe radical groups that we’re worried about trying to disrupt things, then we’re worried that would only be all the more dangerous,” he said. “What we want to do is to try to get the left and the right to exchange words instead of fists again.”

At least one speaker who has confirmed his presence is Shivva Ayyadurai, a Republican who is challenging Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018. 

According to police, officers will be focusing on keeping the differing sides apart from each other. Rallygoers and counterprotesters alike have been advised to expect bag searches.

Fitchburg State University President Peter Lapidus has issued a public statement announcing the school’s “zero tolerance for bigotry and violence” after Medlar’s name surfaced in various media reports: 

DigBoston is reporting that there are at least two counterdemonstrations slated for the Common on Saturday, including a march that will begin in Roxbury outside the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at 10 a.m. and conclude at the Common. 

The Boston chapter of Antifa, a self-identified anti-fascist collective, is also scheduled to attend.