After a planned far-right free speech rally disbanded, riot police and counter-protesters mostly young black men and far-left anti-fascists clashed in downtown Boston Saturday afternoon.
Police made 27 arrests throughout day, many of which involved battery against officers, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said at a press conference. Some officers were even hit with bottles of urine, he added. During the clashes, however, counter-protesters wanted to know why officers were protecting who they called white supremacists.
Just a week after neo-Nazis and white supremacists terrorized Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving three dead, tensions were already running high in Boston. The alt-lite who, in theory, preach civic nationalism, rather than white nationalism planned to gather in Boston Common, the oldest city park in the U.S., to extol the virtues of free speech. While the rally said it opposed white supremacy, the Klu Klux Klans national leader saidearlier in the week that members from Massachusetts would show up.
But while Boston Police had planned for the possibility of another Charlottesville, the rally quickly fell apart.
An estimated 15,000 counter-protesters marched two miles toward Boston Common, chanting anti-Nazi slogans and forcing 50 rally members, VICE News estimates, into the parks bandstand, behind a police barrier. And when the far-right rally ended earlier then planned, law enforcement had to escort its attendees away from the park.
In the interest of their safety, police formed a line protecting the rally members and tried to load them into police vans. But the situation escalated. Groups of angry counter-protesters mobbed the attendees and started chanting, Who do you protect? Who do you serve? at the police.
A counter-protester and Boston police officer in riot gear stare each other down. They quietly exchanged words at one point.
Riot police began clearing the streets and pushing counter-protesters and media onto the sidewalks for the police vans to pass through. Police started handcuffing those who wouldnt comply.
At the intersection of Tremont and Boylston Streets, a group of counter-protesters lined-up before the row of riot police and started chanting free speech, free walk.
They also asked the officers why they were protecting rally attendees, whom they described as white supremacists.
A counter-protester stood watching the scene unfold without a word. Then, he began emotionally asking the riot police why theyre protecting rally attendees rather than them.
Another counter-protester stood in front of the wall of riot police, who knocked over a female photographer shortly after as they charged forward.
An officer in riot gear observed the escalating interactions between his fellow officers and counter-protesters.
After police had knocked several people over, including a photographer and a man with a walking cane, Christopher Lee, 23, re-approached the line.
A young woman, who had positioned herself on the front lines of the counter-protest, became overwhelmed and began crying.
After nearly an hour, crowds dispersed, and the police vans, filled with rally attendees, were finally able to pass through the streets. From there, riot police walked in the center of the street. One made a peace sign.
Soon after, President Donald Trump tweeted his praise for the Boston Police being tough and smart in their handling of anti-police agitators.
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Boston police clash with protesters after free speech rally – VICE News
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