40,000 counterprotesters showed up to save the day
After last week’s harrowing confrontation in Charlottesville, the nation was nervously awaiting yesterday’s “Free Speech Rally” in Boston. Observers were fearful that more violence would be in the offing as the alt-right gathered in the center of the city.
Fortunately, the alt-right was heavily outnumbered. Because, as one peaceful protester stated, “Boston doesn’t play that.”
NPR has the story on the small number of conservative activists who gathered near Boston Common, and the thousands of counter-protesters who were determined to oppose the kind of pro-Nazi, pro-KKK hate speech that made the news last week in Virginia.
Massive counter protest is still converging on the Boston Common pic.twitter.com/0RvvHd6sHO
— Zeninjor Enwemeka (@Zeninjor) August 19, 2017
Capturing the tone of the event, one of the early speakers at the rally condemned President Trump’s tepid equivocations after Charlottesville, in which the maligned presidents blamed “both sides,” telling the crowd, “If you don’t condemn it, you condone it.”
Bostonians made it clear on Twitter that they most definitely condemn it.
BREAKING: New England patriots win, 40,000 to 133. #Boston
— George Wallace (@MrGeorgeWallace) August 19, 2017
One exchange between a conservative and a counter-protester captured on video is a perfect representation of how the event went down, in typical, bad-ass Boston style.
“We’re in Massachusetts, how many fuckin’ Nazis and Klan members do you think live here?…If you did a poll in America of ‘do you like Nazis,’ it would be like 90 somethin’ percent of people would be like fuck the Nazis. Nobody likes Nazis.”
Someone buy this guy a Guinness! For the most part, people were there for the right reasons.
“We’re American! That means we’re a melting pot!” shouted one flag-bearing man in response to why he was at the event.
— Libertivity (@Libertivity) August 20, 2017
A few skirmishes erupted but nothing caught fire, as the overwhelming imbalance of the crowd made anything like Charlottesville unlikely. About 500 police officers were also on the scene, keeping the peace and confiscating the more incendiary signs before they could cause much of an uproar.
— Zain Khan (@ZKhanOfficial) August 20, 2017
One woman who mentioned a brief confrontation to Jezebel summed the entire rally up with one simple phrase:
“Some guy over there was talkin’ shit, so they chased him down,” she said. “Boston doesn’t play that shit.”
— Mass Teachers Assn (@massteacher) August 19, 2017
I lived in Boston for almost 15 years, and I just got back from a visit to Cape Cod with my family. Suffice it to say that the results of Saturday’s protest were not at all surprising to people who know the character of the city, and how strongly the values that America was actually founded upon reverberate throughout the region.
Nevertheless, to everyone watching from afar, hoping the events of Charlottesville wouldn’t be repeated, it was heartening to see such a large swell of people stand up against the repugnant views of the alt-right.
For his part, President Trump continued to strike a strange tone in his response to these rallies, seemingly accusing the largely peaceful contingent of counter-protesters of being anti-police for some reason.
Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
He later applauded both the police’s efforts at keeping the peace and those of the protesters who stood up against “bigotry and hate.” We’ll see how long he can continues to actually make sense.