‘Free Speech’ Rally Counter-Protest Turns Ugly, Targets Rally Goers, Cops

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/20/free-speech-rally-counter-protest-turns-ugly-targets-rally-goers-cops/

Shortly before noon, the counter-protest Saturday against the so-called Free Speech Rally on Boston Common had a festive feel to it, with music, smiling faces, and colorful displays and signs.

The atmosphere changed after a Free Speech rally goer apparently tried to engage in dialogue with counterprotesters, and ended up getting escorted off the Common by about a half-dozen Boston police officers surrounded by a crowd of angry men screaming at them and trying to get at them. As the slow-moving circle neared Charles Street between the Common and the Public Garden, one of the counterprotesters lobbed a bottle of blue Gatorade into the scrum. Police officers got the rally goer onto Charles Street and then eventually into a paddy wagon, which took him away.

Not long afterward, a cadre of riot cops in helmets and pads and bearing batons came marching north on Charles Street and then took a right and entered the Common, turning right again along the walkway south. Their presence clued the crowd there that something was happening, so the crowd followed the riot cops south along the Charles Street and then east on Boylston Street, some shouting, “We don’t need you!” The riot cops stopped near the edge of Central Burying Ground on the Common, and it became clear to the crowd that police were going to try to evacuate the rally goers at that spot, not far from Boylston Place across the street.

At that point, police had trouble making room on the street for paddy wagons bearing rally goers to come out.

During the impasse, many in the crowd became agitated against police, with some occasionally chanting “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?”

Four paddy wagons eventually exited the common. (That’s apparently all it took to accommodate almost all of the rally goers.) As they left, in slow motion, counterprotesters chanted “Make them walk! Make them walk!”


At Boylston Street and Tremont Street, police started arresting men who had impeded the paddy wagons or had mixed it up with police officers trying to make room for police vehicles. After several arrests, one young woman standing on the sidewalk near the corner who could see a man antagonizing police officers yelled out, “Walk away! We won! Walk away! We won!” Moments later police officers arrested the man, bringing him to the ground and handcuffing him.

When the Free Speech Rally participants had left the scene, counter protesters, including members of Antifa, turned their attention to the cops, gathering at intersections and and goading them.

Farther east on Boylston Street, police on motorcycles came riding toward the scene of the disturbances in two lines. One counterprotester on a bicycle stopped and positioned himself on the street inches from where the motorcycles on the right side were going, leaned in and yelled obscenities at passing cops while making obscene gestures. The police officers riding by ignored him.

As of Saturday evening Boston police said they had made 33 arrests.