Walsh: Don’t Go To The Boston Common Saturday

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/18/walsh-dont-go-to-the-boston-common-saturday/

BOSTON — Mayor Martin J. Walsh is urging the public to avoid Boston Common on Saturday, where a controversial midday free speech rally will be held that is expected to draw massive amounts of counter-protesters.

Saturday’s rally is slated to begin at 12 p.m., following a week’s worth of concern over the potential for violence after a rally led last Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, that was held primarily by white supremacists and white nationalists devolved into mayhem after the groups clashed with counter-protesters.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans has promised that authorities have a plan in place to keep rallygoers from mixing it up with protesters. Walsh on Friday morning addressed the city’s decision to grant the free speech group a permit to hold its event on the Common.

“There’s been questions about why we granted a permit for the rally tomorrow,” Walsh said. “The courts have made it abundantly clear, they have the right to gather no matter how repugnant their views are.

“But they don’t have the right to create unsafe conditions, so we’re going to respect their right of free speech, in return, they must respect our city.”

Walsh added that “if anything gets out of hand we will shut it down.”

Walsh also said he has spoken with representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, seeking advice on how best to respond to the rally. 

“They say that interacting with these groups just gives them a platform to spread their message of hate,” the mayor told reporters. “They recommend that people should not confront these rallies. So we’re urging everyone to stay away from the Common.”

Several groups, led by Black Lives Matter organizers, have scheduled a march beginning at 10 a.m. which will wind its way from Roxbury Crossing and up Tremont Street before ending at the Common.  Their numbers are projected to be in the thousands. 

The group that planned the rally, however, began seeking its permit in July — well in advance of Charlottesville, which saw a woman killed and more than a dozen others wounded when a self-avowed white supremacist mowed them down with his car. According to rally spokesman John Medlar, a Fitchburg State University student, white supremacist groups will not be welcome — but the Boston Herald is reporting that several Bay State members of the Ku Klux Klan have said they plan on attending. 

ANSWER Coalition Boston will also be holding a counter-protest, complete with a list of demands: