On Saturday, a mass of anti-racist demonstrators turned out on the streets of Boston, determined to protest a so-called "free speech" rally being held at the Boston Commons. The rally, which was widely expected to draw the same sorts of white supremacists and neo-Nazis as showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia last week, got a lot of exposure and a lot of public scrutiny throughout the week. Which ultimately culminated in an absolutely massive turnout of protesters standing against white surpremacy ― if you're wondering how many people protested the Boston rally, the number might even surpass your expectations.
According to The Boston Globe, the police department estimates that somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people showed up to protest the rally, a number that blows the actual far-right rally's attendance figures completely out of the water. By way of comparison, NBC News estimated the number of rallygoers at about 100 people, less than one percent the size of the protest crowd.
Needless to say, that's a complete mismatch, one highlighted by videos taken from the Boston Commons that highlight the stark disparity in numbers. In the aerial footage embedded below, for example, you can see the rallygoers themselves tucked inside a gazebo in the park, with thousands of protesters stretching around the perimeter.
The rally reportedly ended early at around 1:00 p.m. ET, with the attendees being escorted out of their carved-out section of the park. This was about an hour prior to when the rally was originally supposed to end, leading some to suspect that the massive turnout of protesters may have spurred the decision to wrap things up ahead of schedule.
The protests were, in addition to their scale and size and urgency, overwhelmingly peaceful. According to the Boston police, there were 27 arrests on Saturday, out of the crowd of tens of thousands.
There are similar events, expected to draw out white supremacist and neo-Nazis, scheduled for the following week. In particular, there are two such events planned in the Bay Area cities of San Francisco and Berkeley. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in fact, California currently leads the country with 79 hate groups operating within its borders.
In both cases, given the historical political leanings of the cities and the high visibility of white supremacist demonstrations in the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests and attack, there figures to be a big response. How it'll compare to what just took place in Boston, however, remains to be seen.