‘This ain’t Charlottesville’
Protesters far outnumber rally participants, violence avoided
This story was updated at 5:15 p.m.
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PROTESTERS converged on Boston Common Saturday to chant, wave signs, and boo about 50 people holding what they described as a free speech rally at the Parkman Bandstand.
The protesters surrounded the bandstand, but police barricades kept them from getting any closer than 100 to 150 yards. As a result, neither side could clearly hear what the other was saying. Protesters got into shouting matches with a handful of young white men who strolled through the crowd wearing hats saying Make America Great Again, but there appeared to be little violence.
Protesters – and police — seemed intent on proving that what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend would not happen in Boston. Police, many of them on bikes, surrounded the bandstand and kept an eye on the protesters behind the barricades. The rally participants listened to a few speakers, clapped, and at one point raised their fists. The protesters kept up a steady stream of chants – “We can’t hear you” and “Go home” among them. Others shouted: “This ain’t Charlotte.”
Boston police in riot gear were called in to clear a path for police wagons that appeared to carry the rally participants away from the park. Some in the crowd shouted “stand your ground” when the police began moving them back with their batons, but for the most part protesters complied with police directions. Some protesters yelled at the police for protecting “Nazis,” but others in the crowd yelled that the police were just doing their jobs.
After the police wagons pulled away, the crowd began to disperse, but lots of people remained behind, roving around the Boston Common. Some of the protesters went up near the State House, which prompted more police in riot gear to move in there.
Later, a large crowd took over Tremont Street near West Street. Police at one point tried to clear the street so traffic could start moving, but they were largely unsuccessful as the crowd chanted “Our street,” “Black lives matter,” and Fuck Donald Trump.” There were a lot of verbal exchanges between the protesters and police, and the occasional shoving. Some in the crowd threw bottles and other debris at officers.
The Boston Police, via their twitter feed, said some protesters were throwing rocks and appealed to the crowd not to throw bottles of urine and water.
President Trump issued a series of tweets on the Boston Common protests. He initially tweeted that it “looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.” He applauded the police and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in a second tweet and in a third said “our country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & be stronger than ever before!”