In the wake of the right-wing terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Boston experienced widespread sympathy and support for antifascism on a scale never before seen in a city with an ugly reputation for racism. Exactly a week after the events in Virginia, the Alt-Right organizer of the “Boston Free Speech Rally” planned to move forward with holding the event which would provide a platform for controversial figures of the Alt-Right (Based Stickman, Joe Biggs, Augustus Invictus) and had the support of fascist and KKK groups who planned to attend.
Tweet from Identity Evropa, one of the main groups who organized ‘Unite the Right.’
However, on Saturday, their “free speech” rally turned out to be nothing short of a complete failure. A city-wide mobilization against the right-wing platform drew the support of over 20,000-40,000 and was led by several organizations headed by people of color. Black Lives Matter and Workers World Party organized to march 2 miles starting from Roxbury down Tremont St. into the Commons, where the “free speech” rally was taking place. Our affinity group’s role that day was to serve as a security force for our comrades in BLM and WWP, putting our bodies in between the anti-racist demo and an overwhelming police state that was out in full force. We joined a team of marshals in protecting the sound-truck and banner holders at the front of the march, the largest mobile anti-racist demonstration we personally have ever seen in our city, it was beautiful.
“This time we were part of a mass movement, and were being thanked by strangers, the same way liberals thank cops for their “service.”‘
It was definitely an entirely different experience from the last “free speech rally” back in May, when our affinity group was joined by only a handful of other antifa crews in the awkward showdown with the alt-right on the Common. This time we were part of a mass movement, and were being thanked by strangers, the same way liberals thank cops for their “service.” The fact that it took a young anti-fascist woman to be murdered in a terrorist attack in Virginia for there to be widespread sympathy and support for the struggle is unfortunate, but we are glad the tides have turned in our favor and we hope this momentum continues to build.
The march from Roxbury to the Common was especially important, not only for the sheer amount of numbers in it, but that it was led by and centered the voices of people of color and those most marginalized. It was extremely hot out, but the march was energetic and empowering.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 19, 2017
— Adam Greenberg (@pragmactivist) August 19, 2017
Chaos and running in Boston as police escort a far right protester who returned to antagonize counter-protesters. This video gets loud. pic.twitter.com/cPH85hCOZp
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) August 19, 2017
The radical tone of the march was incredibly inspiring and uplifting. It was clear that years of radical organizing and grassroots activism culminated in this unprecedented uniting of the Left in Boston, and NOT liberalism or the Democratic party.
As we approached the Common from Tremont Street, the vibe dramatically shifted as we got word of scuffles already taking place between anti-racists and MAGA supporters, as well as a shift in the presence of the police, which ultimately became the most aggressive force on the streets that day. When the march reached the southwest corner of the Common, almost immediately we encountered resistance from the Boston Police, when they tried to block our entrance. People began thinly filing into the Common through the heavy city equipment (trash trucks) which were being used as barricades to disrupt access to the park. Our affinity group proceeded to provide extra security for people who took a small stage in the Common to begin speaking, meanwhile the police were aggressively handling various scuffles breaking out between anti-racists and Trump supporters who were roaming the park after their small and short-lived rally had ended early.
Around the outskirts of the Common, there were brave acts of resistance against roaming fascists and autonomous groups holding their ground against the police, who by now were out in full riot gear.
Police made 27 arrests throughout the day, many of which involved battery against officers, some officers were even hit with bottles of urine. The people of Boston could see how the police were protecting the groups of fascists by providing police vans for their security and escorting them out of the area. After a mostly peaceful day without incident, the situation around the Common became violent only after police in riot gear showed up, and those in the streets bravely resisted.
Young folks of color and anti-fascists held their ground against the police, and all the comrades who were arrested were released the same night using bail funds accumulated by BLM ahead of time for this purpose.
A confederate flag was snatched by anti-racists and burned on the steps of Boston Common.
In the days after the anti-racist disruption of the “free speech” rally in Boston, the fake antifa social media trolls of “Boston Antifa” continue to publish disinformation attempting to slander our success. Despite our efforts to expose them back in April, it’s become apparent that some on the right and the left are still falling for their backwards content. It’s important to call this shit out for what it is, right-wing trolling to discredit us. Please spread this far and wide to let everyone know what they’re falling for, and as antifascist organizing gains notoriety and more media coverage, especially in the wake of big actions like this, expect more right-wing trolls to pull things like this.
Much love and respect to our city for coming out against racism and right-wing bullshit and throwing down like we always knew they could! Let’s keep this momentum going. No pasaran!