On Monday, Boston officials announced plans to block a free speech rally scheduled in the city this weekend.
The Boston Free Speech rally was organized by a group that claims to be different than the white supremacists who organized a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend that ended in deadly violence, despite having similar speakers and supporters.
Some supporters tweeted Monday that the rally — scheduled for Saturday on the Boston Common— had been cancelled because city officials revoked the group’s permit request, but the city said the group never applied for a permit, according to Mass Live.
Boston Free Speech later posted on Facebook that the group had submitted a permit in July and it had been approved by the city. They also said the rally on Saturday is not cancelled.
The Boston Police Department Commissioner confirmed Monday that the group still does not have a permit for the rally because they never applied to the correct city department, Boston’s WBUR reported. The group can still rally without a permit.
Boston’s mayor and Massachusetts’ governor held a press conference Monday to discuss the planned rally, saying they would do everything they could to keep the gathering from happening and that Boston rejects racism, white supremacy and hatred, Mass Live reported.
“Boston does not welcome you here, Boston does not want you here, Boston rejects your message,” Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We’ll do anything in our power to keep hate out of our city.”
Walsh said the city is working to figure out who the organizers are and he said he planned to ask the group to postpone the rally. If they did arrive, he said the city would allow them to advocate for free speech, but not violence, threatening behavior or vandalism.
Police Commissioner William Evans said that regardless of whether the group gets a permit, they still have a protected right to gather if they choose to, according to the Boston Globe.
“We’ve handled major demonstrations, and I don’t find this any different,” he said. “It’s pretty sad that we have to waste so many resources on such a group . . . with such hatred coming to Massachusetts.”
The moves to block the rally come in response to a request from several Boston civil rights groups, who asked Walsh for a meeting to discuss how the city plans to keep citizens safe during the Free Speech rally on Saturday.
The gathering is scheduled to be held exactly one week after a self-proclaimed white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, killing one person.
On its Facebook page, the group claimed it is not associated with the Charlottesville rally, but previously scheduled speakers included several prominent alt-right voices like Gavin Mcinnes, who has since backed out, and Joe Biggs, formerly of Infowars. Augustus Invictus, who spoke at the Charlottesville rally, was also scheduled to speak at the rally, but was uninvited by the group, the Boston Globe reported.
US Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai is also scheduled to speak and told the Globe he would be there to support free speech if the rally happens.
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