A "free speech" rally is set to take place in Boston on Saturday, and given the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the city is on high alert. The mayor has urged residents to stay away from the area during demonstrations, and given that several right-wing media figures are scheduled to speak — one of whom was recently charged with felony weapon possession — it's not too surprising that a counter-protest called 'Fight Supremacy' is being planned for the same day.
"On Saturday, August 19th, White Nationalists are converging on Boston Common to reinforce their white supremacist ideology and attempt to intimidate queer and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, POC) communities," Fight Supremacy's organizers wrote on Facebook.
The organizers of Boston Free Speech deny that the event is white supremacist in nature, writing on Facebook that they "denounce the politics of supremacy and violence" and "will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry." However, one of the scheduled speakers is Kyle Chapman, who was charged Friday with felony weapon possession in connection with an "alt-right" protest in Berkeley earlier in the year. Video of the event showed Chapman striking counter-protesters over the head with a wooden stick; he has since become a hero in the "alt-right," which gave him the nickname "Based Stickman."
This is the second "free speech" rally Boston will host this year. The last one took place in May, and according to WBUR, it attracted a relatively small crowd. Nevertheless, one attendee wearing a Make America Great Again that was filmed punching a counter-protester, and was promptly arrested.
"As we have seen with the events in Charlottesville and around the country, white nationalists are emboldened by the current political administration and growing police state," Fight Supremacy's Facebook page reads. "Rallies and marches organized by white supremacists are more prevalent than in recent years, and—as always—it is the most marginalized who are left vulnerable."
Fight Supremacy is being organized, in part, by Black Lives Matter and several local affiliates, and it will be joined by the Boston branch of the NAACP. They note on Facebook that "as with all public actions there is always a risk of injury and/or state violence," and that they are "committed to community safety, survival, and protecting marginalized communities."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has urged counter-protesters not to interact with members of Boston Free Speech. In preparation for the demonstrations, the city has installed new fencing and cameras around Boston Common, where the rallies are taking place, according to CBS Boston.