Telling local news radio station WBUR that "if you are a Nazi, a KKK, we don't want you here," the organizers of a Boston rally billing itself as "Boston Free Speech" specifically denounced Nazism and white supremacists while maintaining they had the right to espouse views which were unpopular with swarms of counter-protesters, the organizers of whom labeled the Free Speech participants as "white supremacists."
Gathered at the bandstand on the Boston Common, the Boston Free Speech rally speakers included a Republican candidate for US Senate, Shiva Ayyadurai, who is challenging Elizabeth Warren. Ayyadurai's supporters held signs which said "No GMOs - Stop Monsanto" and "Black Lives DO Matter." The speeches opened with a prayer and a moment of silence for Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville last week by an alleged white supremacist.
Another speaker was Samson Racioppi, a LIbertarian candidate for Congress. Also on the speakers list was Brandon Navon, a 2012 delegate for presidential candidate Ron Paul. The Anti-Defamation League page on the rally faulted Navon for:
"[propagating] the conspiracy theory that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered for political reasons."
The Anti-Defamation League declined to describe the event as a white supremacist rally, saying at its blog:
"Unlike Charlottesville, the Boston event, as currently planned, is not a white supremacist gathering."
In a Facebook message last Tuesday Boston Free Speech wrote:
"This Free Speech Movement is dedicated to peaceful rallies and are in no way affiliated with the Charlottesville rally on 8/12/17
While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence. We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement."
Antifa is shorthand for anti-fascists, groups of left-leaning protester who fashion themselves after the anti-fascist brigades of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.
Although the majority of the approximately 40,000 counter-protesters were peaceful, a number threw punches at police, and had to be pushed back as they swarmed free speech rally participants, who were escorted away to waiting police vehicles for their safety. ABC News reported that 27 counter-protesters were arrested. In one instance, a woman who was standing among the "Fight Supremacy" counter-potesters and holding an American flag had her flag grabbed and fell to the ground as she was being pulled away (VIDEO BELOW.)
Boston Free Speech, as the original rally participants call themselves, said on its Facebook page:
"We are a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents and we welcome all individuals and organizations from any political affiliations that are willing to peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties..."
Despite the Boston Free Speech organizers taking pains to make clear that Nazis, KKK, and white supremacists were not welcome in their midst, the organizers of the counter-protest persisted in describing the rally as one of "white supremacists, writing in their Facebook page:
"On Saturday, August 19th, White Nationalists are converging on Boston Common to reinforce their white supremacist ideology and attempt to intimidate queer and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, POC) communities."
The header for the Facebook page put up by organizers of the counter-protest advertised "Fight White Supremacy."
No swastikas, KKK signs, or other recognizable symbols of white supremacy could be seen among the Boston Free Speech participants.