Huge crowds of counter protesters have marched peacefully through downtown Boston against a "Free Speech" rally featuring right-wing speakers, a week after Heather Heyer, an anti-racism campaigner, was killed at a Virginia white supremacist demonstration.
In the wake of Charlottesville, all eyes are turning to Boston, which is scheduled to hold a "Free Speech Rally" on Saturday afternoon.
The organizers of the Boston rally have said they are focused on promoting free speech and are not affiliated with the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville.
The organizers of the rally posted on Facebook on August 15 that their movement was "dedicated to peaceful rallies" and was "in no way affiliated with the Charlottesville rally on August 12". "We're going to respect their right to free speech".
As the country continues to grapple with the unbridled violence of Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, major cities such as Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and others will be the site of major protests today-some under the guise of "free speech", others in defiance of white supremacy and in what organizers are calling "solidarity with Charlottesville".
"Our job is to make sure that as the peace rally enters into Boston Common, that the folks that come in there feel safe, that we don't have an incident that happened like last week in Virginia", Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a press conference on Friday, issuing a warning to those who planned to participate on either side. "I don't want them here".
UPDATE 12:13PM: Crowd of rally participants grows, as does the massive group of counter-protesters.
"We will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry", organizers said in a Facebook post earlier this week.
The rally is expected to draw an assortment of conservatives and libertarians, as well as white supremacists.
And hours before the rally began, thousands of counterprotesters began marching around the city. A large group of counter-protesters is also expected.
The Boston Herald reported that up to 30,000 people attended the counter-protest.
Rebecca Koskinen stood in front of her brick rowhouse on Tremont Street, awaiting the marchers, with her daughters Elle, 5, and Liv, a year and a half.
Members of the Black Lives Matter movement later protested on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle.
Amid a heavy police presence, men, women and children from diverse backgrounds showed up early Saturday to march from the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury to Boston Common. Approximately 500 officers were deployed to monitor the protests, and security cameras and extra barriers were set up to separate the "Free Speech Rally" from counter-protesters who surrounded them.