By Vincent Gabrielle
BU News Service
A small group of self-described “free speech” activists held a “Rally for the Republic” on the Boston Common today. The rally, organized by groups called “Patriot Prayer” and “Resist Marxism,” went ahead in spite of being denied a permit by the city of Boston.
“You are participating in a proud warrior tradition,” one speaker said. “Without sacrifice and bloodshed, we lose.”
Separated from the rally by a heavy police presence and steel barricades, several hundred counter-protesters chanted slogans and waved signs denouncing the rally goers. “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA.” The Boston Police Department confirmed in a tweetthat at three protesters were arrested during the afternoon.
The “Rally for the Republic” was a smaller version of an event that took place this past August when a small group of free speech activists came to Boston and were met by a crowd of 45,000 protesters. The free speech proponents had to be escorted off the Common by police.
While the slogan of the rally was “free speech” some attendees said they came with other agendas. One man, draped in “Kekistan” flags, a green version of the Nazi Reichskriegsflagge, said, “I’m not trying to achieve anything. I’m here for myself. I’m here for the memes.”
Others had more concrete goals. MJ Coombs, a libertarian conservative wearing a Prussian helmet carried an anti-Federal Reserve sign and identified the city of Boston as Marxist. “I want to privatize the Common, the parks and the streets,” he said.
Rally organizer Mark Sahady, who is from Boston, said he had a right to express himself and that Mayor Marty Walsh had no right to censor him or call him a racist. He pointed out to the crowd, “You can see by the tactics they use, fascist tactics, that they support Marxism.”
When asked whether fascism and Marxism were the same thing, Sahady said: “I’m not here to talk ideology. I’m here for free speech.”
A rally speaker, Kyle Chapman praised the police presence saying, “I’m six feet tall and pretty muscular, but if I get assaulted by 10 guys with bear mace how’s that going to help?” Chapman rose to fame among the alt-right after striking an Antifa protester in the head with a stick during a protest this past March.
He spoke earlier about the need for the rally goers to shed blood for their cause. Wearing a tee shirt with the words “It’s ok to be white” written across it and a sharp, spiked ring Chapman said, “It’s really disgusting how little respect liberals have for free speech.”
On the other side of the barrier, a broad coalition of counter-protesters assembled. Contingents from Cambridge Black Lives Matter, Boston Democratic Socialists, and Veterans for Peace lined up to make their opposition known. A protester, Marie Weathers said she was there to make sure the alt-right’s hate speech was not welcome in Boston.
“The speech they’re trying to protect is a cover for what their true agenda is,” she said. “They’re trying to marginalize people who have been oppressed for a long time.
That sentiment was shared by many protesters. Maurine Biscardi, who was part of the giant crowd in August said she was surprised the far right came back. She thought Boston had made itself perfectly clear before. “I’m for free speech but hate speech is not welcome here,” she said.
Anna Geoffroy, a self-described free speech advocate, protested the rally. Bearing a sign that said “No Kek. No KKK.” She expressed frustration at how former friends online became racist. She described young kids getting radicalized by 4chan and recruited into the alt-right. “I make a point of bringing up the kek thing,” she said. “It’s a cesspit of right wing nut-baggery and parents don’t know.”
Wearing a boot on his head, performance artist Vermin Supreme stood between the protesters and police discouraging violence. The ralliers had called him to the bandstand but he hadn’t spoken. After the rally began to broke up Vermin summed up the mood. “This is becoming a troll event. They really are just 4chan-y troll-y trolls.