This is a breaking news story. It will be updated throughout as new information becomes available.
An estimated 40,000 counterprotesters converged on downtown Boston to denounce white supremacy and Nazism a week after the unnecessary violence that occurred in Charlottesville, VA, the Boston Globe reports.
Chanting anti-Nazi slogans, the droves of demonstrators made their way through the city to the historic Boston Commons, cutting short an organized "Free Speech Rally" organized by the Boston Free Speech Coalition. According to The New York Times, the rally was planned before the events in Charlottesville transpired.
While the "Free Speech Rally" itself was not organized by any of the groups responsible for the violence in the Virginia city, two of the 14 speakers scheduled to make appearances at the rally espoused right-wing, extremists views. Authorities feared that the event would attract white supremacist groups. Boston's mayor, Marty Walsh, shared an official advisory on Twitter which urged everyone to avoid the Boston Commons if possible and to protest peacefully saying, "We believe in tolerance, unity, and equality, and urge everyone to stay safe and respect our City."
Seeking to prevent more of the same violent confrontations as last weekend, partitions watched over by police were put in place to keep the groups separate.
Tensions ran high as camera crews captured counterprotestors chasing after a man with a Trump banner while shouting and swearing at him. Other counterprotestors intervened as they helped the man reach the designated area for the conservative rally. A counterprotester, Imani Williams, spoke to the Boston Globe saying, “We shouldn’t be like them . . . It’s the right thing to do at the end of the day. We’re all part of the same country. It’s unfortunate what’s happening but the response we should have is to be nonviolent.”
The Boston Globe reported that over 500 police officers were present, some in uniform and some undercover, to manage the crowd. Arrests were made for disorderly conduct, though law officials have yet to confirm how many were made.
John Medlar, one of the rally's organizers, while speaking with The Boston Globe insisted that the event was not a right-wing gathering. "We want to do is show people that we can listen to each other, that we can bring reasonable opinions together without resorting to violence.” Medlar went on to denounce white supremacist ideologies saying, "Get your own rally...they use the First Amendment as a shield for themselves, but they won't stand up and defend the First Amendment for the people that they oppose."
BBC pulled a quote from the Boston Free Speech Coalition's Facebook page which stated, "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."
Cut short by sheer numbers, the rally ended early and relatively peacefully. Police kept the opposing groups apart as much as possible as they escorted the vastly outnumbered 50 or so attendees of the rally out of the area in vans, as reported by Associated Press.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the rally and counterprotest referring to counterprotestors as "anti-police agitators."
A little over an hour later, President Trump returned to Twitter with softer language for the counterprotesters. "Sometimes you need protest in order to heal," he wrote. He followed it up with praise for counterprotesters speaking out against bigotry and hate, saying, "Our country will soon come together as one!"