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Boston ‘free speech’ rally and counterprotest

A counterprotester, left, holds a sign beside a man wearing a T-shirt bearing President Donald Trump’s name at a “Free Speech” rally by conservative activists on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Boston, Mass. (Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

Boston ‘free speech’ rally and counterprotest

Thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest hate speech a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration, and their shouts drowned out the “Free Speech” rally that sparked their march.

Organizers of the rally had invited several far-right speakers who were confined to a small pen that police set up in the historic Boston Common park to keep the two sides separate. The city largely avoided a repeat of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where there were bloody street battles and one woman was killed.

The rally never numbered more than a few dozen people, and its speakers could not be heard over the shouts of those protesting it and due to the wide security cordon between the two sides.

Protesters surrounded people leaving the rally, shouting “shame” at them and occasionally throwing plastic water bottles. Police escorted several rally participants through the crowds, sometimes struggling against protesters who tried to stop them.

A Reuters photographer saw multiple marchers arrested.

Two male rally participants wearing Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” campaign hats attempted to enter penned-in protest area. They were swarmed by black-clad protesters, some with their faces covered, as the crowd screamed “go home” and “no hate” at them.

“They heard our message loud and clear: Boston will not tolerate hate,” said Owen Toney, a 58-year-old community activist who attended the anti-racism protest. “I think they’ll think again about coming here.”

Some 500 police officers had placed barricades, including large white dump trucks, to prevent vehicles from entering the park, the nation’s oldest. (Reuters)

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