The August 19th, 2017 Boston Free Speech Rally

 

Nearly immediately after the successful May rally, the organizers at Boston Free Speech set out to host another event. The arduous process of receiving a permit from both the city of Boston and the Parks and Recreation started in June.  The established goal of the following gathering was to obtain even more immense political diversity and backings than the previous rally and was unanimously agreed upon by all organizers. Hoping to create and engage in thought-provoking subjects, many of the speakers from our initial event were invited to come back to Boston in August. One of the most recognizable scheduled speakers was Gavin McInnes, a Canadian writer, actor, comedian, and notable co-founder of Vice Media. A new addition slated to speak was Congressional candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, an Indian-born American scientist and entrepreneur. With countless hours of planning and coordination, everyone was prepared for the event to be another outstanding demonstration for free speech.

 

The week prior to the second rally, another unrelated rally in Charlottesville was taking place, with a stated goal of opposing the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Virginia Emancipation Park. The event was organized by several groups from the far right and was consequently counter-protested by the far left. Both groups clashed in the streets, using makeshift weapons all while the police stood by and did not intervene. Consequently, after numerous illegal acts from both sides, an abhorrent individual drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters causing one death and others who sustained injuries. Despite maintaining no connection to the Charlottesville rally, immediately our group was demonized. Soon afterward our week and event snowballed into something we never thought it was going to be.

Boston Police stand by the a barricaded Parkman Bandstand early Saturday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

 

From August 12th to August 19th, organizers and supporters of Boston free speech were bombarded with inquiries from media from every corner of the world; independent newspapers to state-run media, TV networks and documentarians all alike, reached out to the group. Everyone wanted to know who we are, and more importantly what was our event. Within the course of a week, our spokesman did over 100 interviews and countless press statements, all which stated the group is in no way connected to the heinous events of Charlottesville and rather our message was pure advocacy for free speech. In a purposeful and malicious attempt to stifle free speech, Boston politicians and the media misled the public to believe the rally was tied to Charlottesville and would be attended solely by white nationalists and racists. With our headline speaker withdrawing and several others unsure we reached out further, bringing in many new spokespeople. Suddenly our small group had to deal with the press as well as wade through a flood of social media death threats and baseless accusations against us, propagated by the mayor `of this city, the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department and even Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts. It was blatant these politicians were misinformed, and despite meetings with them they continued propagating false statements about our group and rallies to pander to their constituents. For the powerful and trusted, it is easier to silence and slander rather than admit the truth.

 

The day before the rally Boston placed massive physical barriers, surveillance cameras, listening devices, roadblocks, and a winding network of entrances and choke points. We were aware of the counter-protest organized by black nationalist and communist groups on social media, however, we had no issue with them peacefully expressing their first amendment right without violence alongside other attendees. The organizers worked tirelessly with Boston police and fully believed they would protect the event and permit all rally-goers to practice their first amendment rights. However, it rapidly became evident that the day would not work out so peacefully.

 

With a team of planners coordinating the entrance of participants with law enforcement officers, we said that anybody would be welcomed in the bandstand, yet the police would not allow it. For unprovided and unexplained reasoning, we were only allowed to welcome in people that organizers could personally identify, which was a next to impossible feat in a sea of protestors. In a disgusting failure of their promised goal, within 30 minutes of the event, the police declared nobody else would be allowed into the bandstand which left hundreds of free speech supporters `stranded in a violent hostile mob. Many of the original hopeful attendees were subjected to violence and verbal assault by the crowd of protestors, desperate to seek a scapegoat to attack.

With event staff monitoring the crowd and a march that converged with 40,000 misled people, the level of brutality and senseless political violence intensified as the minutes went by. While the select few who the police officers allowed in listened to speeches from many different diverse groups from various political, social, religious, and ethnic backgrounds the police once again decided that we were done and forced us from the bandstand. Awaiting the peaceful and innocent rally goers were sweltering hot paddy wagons, and all attendees were all forced inside in order to evacuate out of Boston. In the wagons, many elderly attendees demanded water and screamed out for air only to be met with silence. One man suffered a heat stroke and another woman going through chemo nearly overheated. All the while the crowds converged on the evacuation point and attacked the police with urine-filled bottles, sticks, and fists. For the first time in Boston history, use of protective riot equipment was engaged against the violent crowd. During the quarter-mile of escorting the paddy wagons down the street, police suffered violent attacks by members of the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter and Antifa groups. Long after the supporters of our free speech event had been removed from downtown Boston, the fight continued between counter-protesters and the police, despite nothing being left to protest.

 

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