Hating on the haters
Boston is no place for hate – and we’ll beat you and isolate you to prove it. Message sent, message received.
From elected officials to the 15,000 to 40,000 demonstrators (depending on whose estimate is accurate), the response to the fizzled Free Speech Rally on Boston Common Saturday was largely loud, proud, and peaceful.
The early dispatches locally and nationally focused on the city’s turnout, which included a march down Tremont Street from Roxbury to the Common. Even President Trump, the focus of the demonstrators’ ire, praised the protest after initially bashing some of the “anti-police agitators.” The demonstration was intended and received as a rebuke to Boston’s history as an inhospitable place for minorities, though some like HBO’s John Oliver pointed out it would take more than a one-day protest to shake that image.
But for more than a handful protesters, roughing up and threatening anyone who even attempted to approach the cordoned-off bandstand where the conservative agitators gathered was the goal of the day.
Boston police arrested 33 people, including four who carried weapons. While many dismiss them as out-of-town anarchists, only three of the 33 hailed from outside Massachusetts and only one of those carried a weapon. The rest were homegrown bullies.
Many wore bandanas, making them the real-life equivalent of online commenters emboldened to say and do anything under the cloak of anonymity. Police kept the counter-demonstrators about 100 yards from the bandstand, so neither they nor the roughly 50 people attending the free speech rally could hear each other. US Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, who attended the free speech rally, released a video showing his speech to the group, which did not spout a lot of white supremacist claims. His backers, in fact, held signs saying “Black Lives Matter.”
While police escorted a few individual rally attendees through the crowd to the Parkman Bandstand, they refused to do the same for members of the media. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” Dan Kennedy wrote on his Media Nation blog. “There was real potential for violence far beyond the skirmishes that actually took place. The Boston Police did a good job of protecting public safety. But free speech took a backseat on Saturday.”
Police Commissioner William Evans patted his city and the department on the back for upholding the First Amendment, a somewhat tortured interpretation of what free speech means.
“We had a job to do, we did a great job,” Evans told reporters after the rally. “I’m not going to listen to people who come in here and want to talk about hate. And you know what, if they didn’t get in, that’s a good thing because their message isn’t what we want to hear.”
But hearing isn’t actually the point of free speech. One woman told Joan Vennochi that “hate speech isn’t free speech” but the Boston Globe columnist disagreed. “Violence is not protected, but there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment,” Vennochi pointed out.
Even some of the protesters recognized that. Imani Williams, a 27-year-old black woman from Connecticut who came to march against the right-wing speakers, was appalled when she saw a rally attendee being spit on and harassed by a group on her side of the divide. She went to the victim’s aid to escort him through the seething crowd.
Message sent, message received.
A plan to offer deeply discounted liquor licenses to businesses in less affluent areas of Boston is drawing fire from restaurant owners and industry officials who say the move is unfair to those who have paid top-dollar for the right to serve booze. (Boston Globe)
Boston’s chief financial officer, David Sweeney, says it will be a seamless transition to move into the post of chief of staff to Mayor Marty Walsh on September 1. He’s taking over from Dan Koh, who’s leaving to run for the North Shore congressional seat being vacated by Niki Tsongas. (Boston Herald)
A bull is shot dead in Littleton after five days on the run. (Lowell Sun)
US Rep. Michael Capuano says moderate GOP lawmakers with whom he’s friendly are alarmed at President Trump’s behavior and statements but don’t know how to distance themselves without alienating his supporters in their districts. (Keller@Large)
Gleb Tsipursky, a professor at Ohio State University, says Trump was right that both sides in Charlottesville, Virginia, engaged in violence. (Eagle-Tribune) Alex Beam says Trump is right to question where the effort to remove historic statues will end. If he were black, Beam says, he’d favor getting rid of statues of figures like Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves, but since he’s not he is uncomfortable with the trend. (Boston Globe) The University of Texas at Austin removes Confederacy statutes. (Time) A number of charities are pulling their fundraisers out of the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in the wake of his comments about Charlottesville. (New York Times)
Trump will address the nation Monday night to unveil a change in strategy in Afghanistan, which reports say will include an increase in American troops. (New York Times)
The Globe checks in with the NASCAR crowd at a track in Tennessee to see how the Trump-friendly demographic is viewing the president and today’s polarized political environment.
Recent studies show nearly one-third of Americans cannot pass a citizenship test required of immigrants, who pass the exam at a 91 percent rate. Can you? (Wicked Local)
Longtime Republican operative Beth Lindstrom will formally announce her US Senate run today, a bid that will take a moderate tack in an effort to topple Democrat Elizabeth Warren. (Boston Globe)
Joe Fitzgerald checks in with a Lawrence grandmother who fears that improvements in her hometown will be rolled back if Willie Lantigua is able to reclaim the mayor’s seat he lost four years ago to Daniel Rivera. (Boston Herald
Monday afternoon’s solar eclipse has been an economic boon to the states along the total eclipse’s path with hotels full and millions of tourists expected to descend on the areas with the highest percentage of totality from coast to coast. (U.S. News & World Report)
The Herald looks into problems with the country’s billion dollar sperm donation industry.
A group of Latino parents in Holyoke plans to sue city and state officials for failing to provide translated school information and translators for immigrant families. (Boston Globe)
Annie C. Weiss says biking for cancer research is an uphill climb, and suggests it’s time to address carcinogens at the source. (CommonWealth)
A Herald editorial casts a skeptical eye on a new study that says the North-South Rail Link could be built for considerably less than earlier estimates.
Jim Stergios and Charles Chieppo of the Pioneer Institute say privatization at the T survives a union challenge. (CommonWealth)
Marc Brown, executive director of the New England Ratepayers Association, tries to sort out the region’s perverse electricity markets. (CommonWealth)
Derrick Jackson says England’s booming wind power sector has lessons for New England. (Boston Globe)
Margaret Monsell says a previous conviction shouldn’t preclude someone from all casino jobs. (CommonWealth)
Two suicides in three weeks at Barnstable County Correctional Facility, including a female inmate who had written a note describing her fears over her deteriorating mental condition, have prompted an investigation at the jail where mental health services have been outsourced to a private provider. (Cape Cod Times)
Massachusetts State Police stop and search minority drivers at a higher rate than whites but those searches are less likely to turn up contraband than with white motorists, according to a two-year study by Stanford University researchers. (The Enterprise)
John Carroll, a Boston University communications professor who blogs at “It’s Good To Live in a Two-Newspaper Town,” does some digging into ads in the Boston Globe by a roofing company claiming an official association with the New England Patriots. Except there was none and the team sent a cease and desist order to the Globe and the company, which promptly changed its ads.
PASSINGSActor, comedian, and innovative filmmaker Jerry Lewis, whose movie fame was nearly eclipsed by his annual Labor Day telethon work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, has died at the age of 91. (New York Times)
Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, a former Plymouth resident, died in Washington, DC, over the weekend. He was 84. (Patriot Ledger)