As the country continues to grapple with the unbridled violence of Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, major cities such as Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and others will be the sites of major protests today—some under the guise of “free speech,” and others in defiance of white supremacy and in what organizers are calling “solidarity with Charlottesville.”
First Boston. That rally is to take place in the historic Boston Common at noon EDT, organized by a group calling itself “Boston Free Speech.” This movement, which also goes by the name “Free Speech Coalition” or “the New Free Speech Movement,” describes itself as a “a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives and independents” that is willing to “peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties.”
Although Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has dismissed reports that Ku Klux Klan members would be attending the rally, the Boston Globe reports that at least two of the rally’s speakers are right-wing extremists: One, Kyle Chapman, who goes by the Twitter handle @BasedStickMan_, has described BLM as ISIS (also known as the Islamic State group) and started an organization, the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “New Alt-Right Fight Club ready for street violence.” The other speaker, Joe Biggs, is a former Army staff sergeant who used to work for the Alex Jones-founded conspiracy site Infowars.
However, they might wanna chill on that because that group is expected to be dwarfed by 20,000-30,000 counterdemonstrators who will begin their march in the historically black area of Roxbury and march to the Common. That group is being organized by Violence in Boston, Black Lives Matter Cambridge and Black Lives Matter Boston, according to the Globe.
The mayor of Boston has said that the city will shut the rallies down if there is a hint of violence, and has deployed at least 500 extra police officers in preparation for crowd control. The city is also setting up extra security cameras and barriers separating the opposing rallies.
Boston has also banned participants from carrying weapons, sticks or flagpoles, so Chapman, whose regular gear is a stick and shield, might want to leave his toys at home.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, there will be an evening protest Saturday against white supremacy, which had to be moved from Pioneer Plaza to City Hall Plaza to accommodate an expected crowd of thousands, according to the Dallas Morning News. That city is choosing to keep its specific security plans secret from the public.
The Movement for Black Lives is calling on those so moved to participate in pointed demonstrations at places it deems “institutions that maintain white supremacy,” so that could be, like, anywhere.
Let’s be safe out there today.