Boston Gears Up For Another ‘Free Speech’ Rally

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BOSTON — The city is bracing for Saturday’s third free speech rally, and this time organizers are vowing that they won’t put up with the silencing tactics employed by Mayor Marty Walsh and police during the last go-around in August.

“The city will not work with us,” the lead organizing group, Resist Marxism, announced this week in a Facebook post. “They would require us to accept a prohibition on signs and flagpoles and to again enter a cage that would prevent our supporters and the public from having access to the public assembly.

“We are not accepting these unconstitutional restrictions on our right to peaceable assembly and free speech.”

In August, a similar rally drew a massive police presence while the city imposed restrictions on sound amplification and access to the Common’s Parkman Bandstand. The timing of August’s rally fell a week after violent clashes between protesters and marchers during and after a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia led by self-proclaimed white nationalists.

The August rally was scheduled weeks in advance of Charlottesville’s but Walsh during his public remarks ahead of the event accused Boston’s organizers of promoting the speech of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Since then, Walsh and the city have been the subject of two federal lawsuits — one filed by a former organizer who claims Walsh’s comments inspired an “Internet hate mob” to flood his employer with complaints, resulting in his firing, and another filed by Pittsfield-based attorney Rinaldo del Gallo who claims the city’s handling of the event was unconstitutional. Shiva Ayyadurai, andindependent running against U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren who spoke at August’s rally, has also threatened Walsh with legal action.

On Friday morning, a federal judge dismissed del Gallo’s bid for a preliminary injunction he said would have guaranteed him and others access and would have confirmed his right to speak at Saturday’s rally:

August’s rally saw more than 40,000 counter-protesters come to the Common, while police capped bandstand access for rally-goers at less than 50 individuals and barred the media from any access at all. Police made 33 arrests for the day, while organizers were prompted to shut down their event and rely on police escorts to leave the area safely.


As for the rally planned for midday Saturday, the city declined to issue the organizers an event permit. But the group organizing it has vowed to press on, and city officials have said authorities will not attempt to disrupt the rally.

The dual groups that helped organize August’s massive counter-protest are teaming up this time to hold a series of counter-demonstrations near the site of Saturday’s rally. According to the local Black Lives Matter chapters spearheading one of the counter-rallies, dubbed Fight Supremacy 2.0, more than 800 are expected to attend.  

According to the group’s Facebook page, nearby schools MassART and Emerson College had originally agreed to host a series of race workshops “aiming to teach how to dismantle white supremacy” immediately following Saturday’s counter-demonstrations but “have pulled out as locations” over “fears that the Freedom of Speech rally attendees being terrorists intent on committing an act of terrorism on Saturday.”

Unlike before the August rally, this time Walsh has remained noticeably silent on the issue, especially as legal action winds its way through the federal courts. The first Boston Free Speech rally, held in May, also drew attention from counter-protesters but not the same numbers as August’s.

Saturday’s rally is slated to begin on the Common at noon.