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Counterprotest Upstages Boston Rally   08/20 11:39

   Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans in a public rejection 
of white nationalism upstaged a small group in Boston that planned a "free 
speech rally" a week after a violent clash rocked Virginia and reverberated 
across the U.S.

   BOSTON (AP) -- Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans in a 
public rejection of white nationalism upstaged a small group in Boston that 
planned a "free speech rally" a week after a violent clash rocked Virginia and 
reverberated across the U.S.

   Counterprotesters marched through the city on Saturday to historic Boston 
Common, where conservatives had planned to deliver a series of speeches but 
soon left. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, as 
boisterous counterprotesters scuffled with police.

   Organizers of the event, the Boston Free Speech Coalition, had publicly 
distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who 
fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that 
Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into 
counterdemonstrators.

   Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, and 
turned out in force, some dressed entirely in black with bandannas over their 
faces. Officials said the rallies --- the largest of about a half dozen around 
the country on Saturday --- drew about 40,000 people.

   Counterprotesters chanted slogans, and waved signs that said: "Make Nazis 
Afraid Again," ''Love your neighbor," ''Resist fascism" and "Hate never made 
U.S. great." Others carried a large banner that read: "SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY."

   Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, said people were 
unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be "a white supremacist 
Klan rally."

   "That was never the intention," he said. "We've only come here to promote 
free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, 
right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence."

   One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the 
event "fell apart."

   Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to 
speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn't realize "how unplanned of an event it was 
going to be."

   Rockeem Robinson, a youth counselor from Cambridge, said he joined the 
counterprotest to "show support for the black community and for all minority 
communities."

   Members of the Black Lives Matter movement held a protest on the Common, 
where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a 
police vehicle.

   Boston Commissioner William Evans said 33 arrests had been made by Saturday 
night --- mostly for disorderly conduct while some were for assaulting police 
officers.

   The police department tweeted Saturday afternoon that some protesters were 
throwing bottles, urine and rocks at them.

   President Donald Trump applauded the people in Boston who he said were 
"speaking out" against bigotry and hate. Trump added in a Twitter message that 
"Our country will soon come together as one!"

   Saturday's showdown in Boston was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators 
dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, 
banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

   Rallies in other cities around the country, while smaller, also were 
forceful.

   Counterprotesters marched through New Orleans, some of them carrying signs 
that read "White People Against White Supremacy" and "Black Lives Matter." And 
in Atlanta, a diverse crowd marched from the city's downtown to the home of the 
late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

   Meredith Dub brought her two daughters, 2-year-old Willow Dub and 
12-year-old Rai Chin to the Atlanta rally. Dub is white and her daughters are 
mixed race. She said it is essential to show children at an early age that love 
is more powerful than hate.

   In California, a rally was held near the famed Venice beach boardwalk in Los 
Angeles and an anti-racism rally was held in Laguna Beach one day before the 
group America First! planned to hold a demonstration in the same place that's 
being billed as an "Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees."

   Mayor Toni Iselman told the crowd that "Laguna Beach doesn't tolerate 
diversity, we embrace diversity."

   In Silicon Valley, more than 500 people gathered in Mountain View in 
response to a far-right "March on Google" to rally against the technology 
company's firing of a white male software engineer over his claim that women 
were biologically unsuited to tech jobs. Organizers postponed the right-wing 
march, alleging threats from leftists.

   In Dallas, a scuffle broke out between people at a rally against white 
supremacy and supporters of Confederate monuments as the event was ending. 
Police officers had to subdue the crowd.

   The rally, which authorities estimated 2,300 people attended, was at City 
Hall plaza, near a Civil War cemetery that houses a memorial to Confederate 
soldiers. Only a few hundred people remained when tempers flared and officers 
on horseback broke up the two sides.

   The Rev. Michael W. Waters, one of the speakers at the rally, said: "Now is 
the time to do what is right in the city of Dallas. Now is the time to bring 
these monuments down."


(KA)

 
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