By a ratio of about 1000 to 1, those who converged on the Boston Common on Saturday brought a non-violent American message of liberty and equality. Signs condemning racism and fascism waved above a crowd that stretched as far as I could see.
The thousands who streamed off the Orange Line with me to start the march at Roxbury Community College probably all had some apprehension about the possibility of violence. I was concerned to see a couple of black-clad and black-masked white young people apparently ready for a fight.
But the concern about violence faded into the background as the crowd built in the warming sun, people found friends, and the united tenor of the gathering became clear.
The crowd around me was majority white and majority young, but included all ages and races. The speakers at the start were all young and mostly African-American. They sounded themes of resistance against oppression.
The speakers included no elected officials — Mayor Walsh and Attorney General Healey and I were in the background. The speakers did include a couple of candidates who took the opportunity to make campaign speeches.
The march reversed direction as it started — the sound truck carrying the speakers moved from one end of the crowd to the other. I found myself near the back of the march.
There was a honk band marching that gave a festive tone to the protest message. A friend of mine among them drafted me to bang the tambourine and that was the rest of the march for me.
As the band arrived on Charles Street, the Boston Police tweeted that the “Free Speech” rally that provoked the march was already over and the participants in that rally had left the Common.
The thousands who had arrived at the Common were looking for something to do and there were several crowds clustered around people with megaphones.
The police were very visible. They were rightly concerned that as the crowds split in multiple directions, unpredictable things could happen. Most were on bicycles, but there was also a platoon of state police in riot gear ready on a side street.
I spent some time chatting with officers in front of the state house. Apparently, only minutes earlier, an unruly splinter crowd had circled behind the state house and attempted to break over the fence. One person threw urine on an officer. The police held back but warned the group. It dissipated.
According to the officers I spoke to, there were only a couple of dozen participants in the original “Free Speech” rally that provoked all the counter-protests. They said that essentially all of the participants spoke and a couple of them did sound Nazi themes and Heil Hitler.
Police crowd control barriers separated the “Free Speech” rally by a good distance not only from counter-protesters, but also from journalists. As a result, I have no other confirmation of the overt Nazi message among the speeches.
The counter protest was heated enough that when the speaking was done, the police felt they had to escort the speakers out of the area in prisoner transport vans to prevent violence.
Overall, the events pretty much summarized America for me: There is a handful of overt fascist/racists who are stirring us all up. There is also a handful of people eager to engage in physical violence with them and, as always, another handful of people looking for trouble generally. But most Americans are peaceful, deplore racism and believe fundamentally in liberty and justice for all.
Thanks for being there, nice job on the tambourine playing! Also thanks for confirmation that there may indeed have been some overt Nazi sentiments expressed by the rally speakers, makes it seem all the more important that we all marched and protested.
Thanks so much for the report and for participating! And bravo to Boston and the officials who organized security.
It’s clear that this right-wing crowd will use the right of free speech to make trouble. It might be worthwhile to look at other nations that do not confuse free speech rights with hate speech.
Will, what a great and reassuring summary, giving all of us hope – to know the difference between messages inciting hate and violence vs. free speech. Thank you! Fay
Thanks for the notice about the happenings of the antifascist march. I am currently overseas, but if I had been in Boston Saturday, I would have been marching too. People outside of the US are very aware of what is happening in our country.
Thanks, Will, for marching and reporting. I could not attend because I’m in Los Angeles. Kudos to Boston and state safety personnel for their well planned and performed efforts to maintain order. I attended one of the rallies here; not nearly as large or well expressed as Boston’s events.
What concerns me here is that the Free Speech people weren’t allowed to speak at all and that the crowd was all too willing to ignore what the First Amendment stands for. I think our country and Boston are strong enough to have let them speak. No, I am not endorsing Fascism or racism – hardly – just trying to emphasize the values that have made our country exceptional.
There’s plenty of video from their supporters online showing that they did, iin fact, speak.
I marched yesterday as well, and there was an enormous range of opinion on the signs of the counter-demonstrators, including one from a Republican, speaking to fellow Republicans about disavowing bigotry if they don’t want their party tied to those extreme views. There was also one young Trump demonstrator debating an entire crowd of young counter-demonstrators on the sidewalk, and they kept the discussion remarkably civil given the circumstances. BPD officers stood watchfully by, but didn’t intervene at all, and the group dispersed on its own. So free speech did occur on the micro level, as well as among the small number of speakers at the “free speech” rally.
Thanks for participating Will, and thanks for sharing this for us to see.
Banging the tambourine … that’s wonderful.
Thanks for the fair and honest reporting Will.
Interesting commentary; very much appreciated. I was once again proud that so many local people showed up and wanted to be counted as completely rejecting fascistic behavior and talk.
Thank you, Will
Your overall summary sounds just right to me. Thanks for the report, Will.
Thanks for being there and for summarizing your experience. Much appreciated. I went over around 3pm and was pleased to see what was happening with what remained of the crowd, from impromptu speeches to putting up the signs along a fence, like a temporary memorial to the event.
Will, thanks for being there and reporting back to your constituents. Much appreciated!
Unfortunately, the 30,000 good people protesting white nationalism did not refute the white nationalists’ pitch (that anti-racism is code for anti-white) that is attracting growing numbers of working class whites to wrongly see white nationalists as their champion. The protesters thus failed to seriously weaken the white nationalist organizations, which continue to recruit and make it seem to many white working class people that Trump is their champion.
In looking at the signs of the protesters against yesterday’s “free speech” rally, all one sees are signs saying that hate and racism and white supremacy etc. are bad.
There was no attempt to refute the “anti-racism is code for anti-white” belief with which the white nationalist organizations are recruiting.
No attempt to explain that Affirmative Action (see link below) and “white privilege” (see link below) rhetoric are schemes designed by the ruling class to make white working class people believe they are under attack by “anti-racists.”
No attempt to explain that racial discrimination against non-whites is real AND ALSO an attack on white working class people, that AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL, that Jim Crow was an attack not only on blacks but on poor whites in the South as well (it prevented integrated unions and thereby kept white wages far lower in the South than in the North.). This is the Big Truth and only it can successfully refute the Big Lie that whites are harmed by abolishing racial discrimination against non-whites.
The ruling class CENSORS the Big Truth, but promotes the “Hate and racism and Nazis and the KKK are bad” theme. The ruling class knows that this theme pits people such as the 30,000 who protested today’s “free speech” rally against the non-trivial number of working class whites who feel persecuted (and who, in non-trivial numbers, let us not forget, voted for Trump.) This is why the ruling class came out on top today!
The ruling class is playing us big time. It is covertly promoting white nationalists and overtly condemning them, to control us all.
We need a massive turnout for a rally that exposes the ruling class faux “anti-racism” schemes (such as Affirmative Action and “white privilege” rhetoric); a rally that explains how the New Jim Crow of racist prison incarceration is implemented with the racist “18:1” law about cocaine that the racist War on Drugs uses; a rally that explains how the War on Drugs is designed to divide and rule ALL working class people by characterizing blacks and Hispanics as “criminal races”; a rally that explains how this divide-and-rule harms ALL working class people by maintaining the obscene class inequality that enables a bus load of individuals to own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire U.S. population.
The ruling class works hard to prevent such a rally from taking place. The Left doesn’t try to build such rallies either; they are too busy defending the ruling class’s faux “anti-racism” schemes and accusing those who oppose them of being racists and “deplorables.”
Here’s how to criticize Affirmative Action: http://newdemocracyworld.org/culture/affirmative.html , and here’s what’s wrong with “white privilege” rhetoric: http://newdemocracyworld.org/culture/privilege.html .
People assembling in protest are not in a position to make reasoned arguments. They can only voice their sentiments – in effect, the conclusion of the case they might have made. Which they did quite clearly and forcefully. And when thousands of white people reject racism, they are surely not sending an anti-white code.
Not true. People’s signs could have refuted the “anti-racism is code for anti-white” pitch. Signs could have said things such as “An Injury to One is An Injury to ALL”; “Jim Crow Hurt Poor Whites Too: Much Lower Wages Than in the North”; “Big Money Uses anti-Black Discrimination to Divide-and-Rule ALL Working People”; “Affirmative Action Was DESIGNED to Foment White Anger at Minorities, Not Fight Racism”; “Whites Are NOT ‘Privileged’ When Non-Whites Are Discriminated Against.” The reason such signs were not present is because the Left/Liberal establishment doesn’t WANT such signs exhibited; it doesn’t say the things these signs say; on the contrary it SUPPORTS the faux “anti-racist” schemes that have increased the white nationalist appeal to working class whites. Good people (like the 30,000 yesterday) are being played.
John, have no idea what you’re carrying on about. You’re making a pretty simple thing into a conspiratorial, new world order thing. It’s not that complicated.
I never said it is “complicated.” Is it “complicated” to figure out what would happen if, for decades, white working class people applying for a job or school admission got told, essentially, “We’re sorry we couldn’t give you the position you applied for; we had to give it to a less qualified minority person”?
Richard Nixon pushed for and implemented this Affirmative Action scheme; is it “complicated” to realize that Nixon was not a big anti-racism force for real? Is it “complicated” to see that the ruling elite’s purpose in implementing Affirmative Action was to create the white resentment of “anti-racists” that it did in fact create?
Is it “complicated” to see that replacing the phrase “racial discrimination [against non-whites]” with the phrase “white privilege” would have the effect that it did in fact have: make working class whites believe that anti-racism is code for anti-white?
As for “conspiratorial” let me remind you of some things. Until the 1940s (when Karl Popper and Edward Strauss in acacemia, and later the CIA in defending the Warren Commission JFK report, changed the phrase “conspiracy theory” from being the perfectly respectable idea that people in high places were going against the public welfare without admitting it), advancing a conspiracy theory was something done by a) the Declaration of Independence, which, if you read it, you will see presents many nominally unconnected facts (dots) that the document “connects” to assert that King George III was conspiring against the colonists, b) Abraham Lincoln, who, when he was a legislator, gave a speech accusing President Polk of using lies and half truths to get the U.S. into a wrongful war with Mexico (i.e. of conspiring against the public) and c) the esteemed historian, Charles Beard, who wrote that FDR secretly had been trying to get Japan to attack the U.S. so as to get the U.S. into the war while publicly claiming he had the exact opposite goal.
Were the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln and Charles Beard people whose claims should have been summarily dismissed because they were advancing a “conspiracy theory”?
Thanks, John. I just can’t connect the dots the way you do. I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories. Conspiracy is always an appealing narrative, but there is no unitary “ruling class” in this country — people with lots of power are as divided as people with less power.
I agree with you in this respect: There are a lot of white people hurting out there too and we all need to take care of each other.
I am sorry you have trouble believing in reality.
It’s not true that “people with lots of power are as divided as people with less power” (in the sense that good and bad opinions are distributed about the same in both groups.)
Among the billionaires, not a single one that I am aware of says that it would be a good idea to remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. But among ordinary people in Boston, more than 90% say it would be a good (or great!) idea, as you can see in this video of random people (no cherry picking!) on the streets of Boston (in your district as well) responding to this question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95b3SmBYwfU .
The people with actual power (the very rich) have pitted ordinary white against non-white people to maintain class inequality since before the American Revolution up to the present day. If any of the very rich opposed this, they were such a tiny minority that they had no effect on policy. This is a fact, and a very evident one. But to acknowledge this fact is a career-ender for politicians and people in academia and business. That is why such people seldom, if ever, acknowledge it.
Ordinary people, in contrast, think it is immoral to pit people against each other to maintain class inequality. Ask them, and you will see this is so.
If the very rich are so “divided” (about using divide-and-rule to maintain their great wealth and power and privilege) then how come virtually none of them are calling for repeal of the racist “18:1” law about cocaine–the basis of the divide-and-rule racist War on Drugs–that I discuss athttp://newdemocracyworld.org/culture/drugs.html ?
I’ve been torn between the strategy of not giving these characters any kind of an audience vs. overwhelming them with protest. But on Saturday, the latter worked, wonderfully well. It was great to observe a sea of white faces rejecting white supremacy. But I was disappointed to see so much of the media coverage focused on the few scuffles that occurred. The media seem to really want mayhem to spice up their “news”.
Will, I do appreciate that you were a participant in the march and the events at the Boston Common. And I thank you for giving us this objective report.
We are lucky to have a competent and thoughtful Police Department in Boston, and to have you as our State Senator.
Thank you for being part of the nonviolent contingent of this rally. And thank you for your report.
So glad you were able to partake and be a part of what America is all about. Thank for reporting as I was unable to participate this round.
Will – Thanks for your observations and participation as part of the group denouncing free speech as a permissible forum for hate speech.
One thing that stood out for me was the hate on both sides of the issue of oppression and injustice felt by both sides. I saw first hand both sides have people who are infected with hate and willing to be violent about it.
The most notable driven person in this country, I believe, is the president.
the sign I had said; “Hate is a drug, Hate is addictive. Mr. president, you need help”.
After being at the protest, I now see that it should also have pointed out that the infection of hate is on both sides.
I identify with the hate being justified by those who are oppressed, people of color and the poor. What I have a hard time hearing is the hate that comes from the white supremacists and Nazi’s is also from a place where they feel victimized and oppressed. Ironically that put’s us on the same side in a way.
The hate spewed by the KKK and Nazi’s must never be condoned but we, and those around us, must also be careful not to be infected by their hate otherwise we become just like them.
Hateful to those who do not think like do and unaware that we, like our president, can be controlled by that addictive drug hate or perhaps, as also personified by this president, in constant need for personal ego polish.
Thank you for this summary, that reflects my impression of the events too!
I’m weary of large political gatherings and slogan chanting, so this was the first march I have ever been to, because I felt that as somebody who grew up in Germany, I have learned that standing by can be a terrible thing.
The few people I saw amongst the thousands of people walking from Roxbury who looked like they were looking for a fight did not reflect the overwhelmingly positive and optimistic atmosphere of the crowd, and would have been discouraged fby everybody else had they started acting out. I haven’t felt safer than during this walk in a long time! The honk band was great and helped express the joy of being together with so many different people who are not interested in perpetuating racism and hate, and who came out because they are worried, not because they have nothing better to do on a sunny weekend day. Thank you for being there too!
Thank you for your thoughtful and observant coverage. I really appreciate your work and your efforts to keep us all involved and informed.
Thanks for sending this – it is appreciated
Thank you Senator Will for informing us how the march went.
I support your work.
A prominent figure in Newton saw it a bit differntly, ro wit:
I went to the anti-Trump ralley on the Boston Common. I refer to it as an anti-Trump rally because that’s what I saw, that’s what it was. The leftist throngs see Trump as the Grand Wizard of the Klan and his supporters as klansmen, and they were there to shout it to the world. It was a vile, disgusting hatefest, spewing venom at anyone and everyone who even hinted that they were a Trump supporter, a Republican, or anyone else not sharing their radical ideology.
I dared not wear anything that would identify me as a Trump supporter or supporter of Israel, lest I be set upon by the violent, racist, anti-Semitic masked jackals.
Such as what happened to the two very brave, but very naive young men, one wearing a Trump banner as a cape, the other donning an Israeli flag. The leftist crowd set upon them like wolves. The two locked arms and tried to get away but the swarm surrounded them, spewing every slur imaginable, closing in on them, ready to pounce, until finally, the police broke through and got them out. And all because they made it clear that they were supporters of Trump… and Israel.
In writing this I’m struck with guilt that I didn’t at least attempt to break through the mob to try to rescue these boys. But there were so many.
And they continued their rampage. There were thousands of these hate filled demonstrators, hundreds donning scarfs to hide their identities as they zeroed in on a lone conservative – or suspected conservative – since the police blocked podium of the few Free Speech speakers and attendees who showed up.
The only one I knew on that podium was Shiva Ayyudarie, who is neither a white supremacist nor a white nationalist. In fact, he’s not even white. There were no klansmen, nazis, white supremacists, or neo-Confederates. None. They were never a part of this. It was all a big lie. And the press is still continuing that big lie.
Yet the ruthless leftist protestors were out for blood and destruction, and but for the police they would have succeeded. It’s only by luck or a miracle that none of the fearless stoic Trump supporters who stood up to them ended up dead or in the hospital.
[name withheld as I
did notget his permission to use this, but wanted you to see another side of this]
Thanks for your helpful account. Could you tell us more about the oppression described by the protesters? Have you seen the Black Lives Matter website? It does a good job, in my opinion, describing the work we have yet to do in this county. Please do not assume that the troublemakers in any way represented the will of the marchers.
Don’t get me wrong, the only good Nazi is a.. you know the rest.. and it’s great that Massachusetts pulled together with another show of progressive solidarity. But now it’s almost time for the annual phony shared custody/family court reform hearings that Ned Holstein pays so dearly for in the middle of the deadest time of the year, mid summer so no one outside of the Sargasso sea of people who pay for representation for this constituency actually hears about the promises of reform until the next annual charade. Meanwhile the industry will get to slip in a few more anti freedom initiatives that make elites feel good and keeps their pipelines/dockets full while driving these cultural divisions further. It should be pretty easy this year after the thrashing the 39 anti progressives in the State got from the 40,000 or so pro-government folks who showed up the other day.
Sorry to rain on this happy moment, which is generally good, (except some of these irrational angry people may be mad about something they can’t even articulate if people who led actually gave a you know what), but… I’m just getting impatient to see some arrests so my children and ex-wife can sue them.
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