Boston is gearing up for a "free speech" rally at a public park downtown on Saturday. Though organizers have stressed that it is a peaceful rally and that they are not affiliated to white supremacists in Charlottesville, those scheduled to speak at the Boston "free speech" rally are an indication to some that the same right-wing sentiments in Charlottesville will appear in Boston, too.
Take the rally's keynote speaker, Joe Biggs. Biggs is a former writer at the conspiracy website InfoWars, and was one of the chief advocates of the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. He has also promoted date rape and sexual assault on Twitter in the past. In January, POLITICO reported that Biggs had a pilot for his own "guns and outdoors" show on Right Side Broadcasting, a pro-Trump TV network.
Kyle Chapman is also scheduled to speak at Boston's free speech rally. Known as an avowed right-wing nationalist, Chapman's claim to internet notoriety was when a video of him clubbing left-wing protestors with a wooden pole circulated the internet. The violent incident took place in March at a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, and earned him the nickname "Based Stickman" among the "alt-right" internet crowd. Chapman reportedly used his newfound internet fame as a marketing ploy to the "alt-right," launching a fundraising campaign for his legal fees and an online apparel store.
The third out of the rally's four headliners is Shiva Ayyadurai, who's currently challenging Elizabeth Warren for her seat as Massachusetts senator. Ayyadurai is a former Democrat who now refers to Trump as "my hero." He's notably worked toward advancing the equal rights of marginalized groups — while a student at MIT, he fought against racism in South Africa as a member of the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid, pushed for programs to combat sexism against women on campus, and defended the school's food-service workers by demanding they receive higher salaries and better employee protections.
Despite his past seeming incongruous with what "alt-right" news sites like Breitbart and self-described "new right" and "American Nationalist" personalities like Mike Cernovich promote, Ayyadurai has been embraced by this crowd. His anti-establishment stances and his unfiltered, controversial rhetoric on the campaign trail are the main sources of the support.
“Well, I think only a real Indian can defeat a fake Indian,” Ayyadurai said in July, referring to his campaign opponent Warren, who's never been able to verify Native American ancestry she claims to have. “I sent her a DNA test kit for her birthday, and I was very sad that she returned it.” Such rhetoric has thrilled alt-righters like Curt Schilling, host of a Breitbart radio show.
The fourth headliner is congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, a Libertarian. “I’m not a white Supremacist. I’m not a neo-Nazi. I’m not a member of the KKK,” Racioppi told a CBS reporter. He further appeared to distance himself from other speakers and rally-goers, should they potentially begin to promote white supremacist ideology.
“If I feel that these people really are extremists and that they’re spouting hate speech, I’m siding with the protesters as long as the protesters are also not extremists,” he said.
Racioppi also insisted that he does not believe any violence will break out at Saturday's event. “I think there are going to be way more good people at this event than are being portrayed by what we’re seeing in social media,” he told reporters.